Adobe Live-Photoshops People Into Bus-Stop Ads in Ambush That's Actually Not Awful

Erik Johansson makes you smile

The notion of being secretly photographed, digitally manipulated and publicly displayed might make some folks shudder. But the furtive surveillance in Adobe's "Street Retouch" stunt, via Swedish agency Abby Norm, seems almost jolly. While waiting at a Stockholm bus stop, people were surprised and, judging by the video below, mostly delighted to see themselves Photoshopped by retouch wizard Erik Johansson (operating from a nearby van) into various scenarios on a seemingly typical outdoor ad panel. One particularly crabby-faced gent steals the show, his sour demeanor sweetening as he watches himself transformed into a city-smashing monster on the electronic billboard a few feet away. The guy winds up smiling, and like others caught up in the stunt, promoting Adobe Creative Day this Tuesday, he snaps a picture of the panel as a keepsake. Unlike more malevolent ad stunts that hinge on provoking fights, flight or just plain fear, this prank gives more than it takes—instant gratification, a novel and positive experience and a cool product demo. So, despite the invasive setup, the stunt succeeds because the people involved seem less like "targets" and more like partners in the campaign. That righteous vibe pervades the highly viral clip (9 million views since Friday) and helps put viewers in the picture about Adobe's creative potential.