It's not usually the role of advertising to make people experience extreme discomfort. But it works pretty well in this Nivea stunt from Germany—a clever if highly sadistic bit of ambush marketing that's destined to go viral.
If you want to be surprised, watch the clip below before reading further.
What happened was: Nivea and ad agency Felix & Lamberti ambushed a series of people in an airport waiting room with an mischievous multimedia barrage that made it appear as though each one was wanted by the police for some crime. The agency secretly took each person's photo, then quickly printed it on a fake newspaper cover identifying the person as a fugitive, which an actor would then carry over and pretend to read near the person. Next, the photo would appear on a TV overhead, as part of a fake newscast that described the person as "dangerous and unpredictable."
Naturally, the victim's confusion—and stress—grow with each passing moment.
Security personnel soon approach, but then the ruse is revealed. They open a suitcase to reveal Nivea's new "Stress Protect" deodorant—apparently perfect for anyone under intense pressure, whether the subject of a dodgy manhunt or not.
Refreshingly, the brand says the victims were not actors. In a comment on the YouTube video, it claims to have thoroughly researched the people to make sure they were healthy enough to take part (no known heart problems, for example), that it had the people's friends lure them to the airport, and that the actual duration of the stress was fairly short.
"Everyone went home happy," the brand says. The same will surely be true of millions of viewers as this thing gets picked up in the coming days.
Agency: Felix & Lamberti, Hamburg, Germany
Creative Director, Copywriter: Felix Schulz
Art Director: Johannes Widmer
Production Companies: JOTZ!, Wefilm