Giant Ape Footprints Appear Around L.A. in Colossal Stunt for Kong: Skull Island

Grandesign explains all five executions

Headshot of Tim Nudd

We’re fond of beach stunts for entertainment franchises, and here’s a pretty good one—or actually, five—from experiential agency Grandesign for this week’s premiere of Kong: Skull Island.

The agency produced five executions over a period of almost a week, featuring giant ape footprints strategically placed around Los Angeles, simulating a destructive journey around town by the titular oversized beast.


Dockweiler Beach

Our favorite execution is this first one, where enormous footprints measuring 25 feet long by 12 feet across suddenly appeared last Friday on Dockweiler Beach, using sculpted sand.

“Theres no ‘promotional activity’ allowed on the beach, so it was crucial that we delivered something really epic that the media would cover, or else this first and most important location of the story could have gone unnoticed,” Grandesign experience creator Jasen Smith tells AdFreak. “For six days we re-sculpted and kept the prints clean looking and glistening with a water-based solution.”


Capitol Records

On Sunday, Kong passed by Capitol Records. “Unloading crushed vehicles with a forklift from a flatbed on the super busy Vine Street was dangerous,” says Smith. “We risked tipping the vehicles off the flatbed into oncoming traffic. Luckily we executed safely and no one was hurt! The crushed vehicles made the scene tie together. We placed fog machines in the vehicles to amplify Kong’s destruction over the night.”


Microsoft Square at LA Live

On Monday, the agency used 3-D vinyl and chalk to illustrate a scene of Kong’s prints in Microsoft Square at LA Live. “Tons of corporate red tape from AEG Worldwide—totally understandable, but again, we couldn’t risk not delivering something that had the wow factor,” Smith says. “And also, since it was such a huge space, we had a lot to fill in. Our solution was to fill the Microsoft Square with tables and chairs … only wrecking a portion of them.”


Runyon Canyon

Similar to the beach execution, this one popped up on Tuesday, as Kong went to have a look at the famous Hollywood sign. This stunt used sculpted dirt, scenic props and fog machines buried inside the footprints.

“One of the most iconic and sensitive locations in all of Los Angeles,” says Smith. “When I first approached the Parks Department to execute this, they told me I was nuts. However, we continued to push and work with all jurisdictions, including the residents of Runyon Canyon Park. This was the studio’s ‘money shot,’ and it was imperative I secured the location. The entire stunt would be worthless if we didn’t get approval to bring Kong to the park. In the end, I was able to gain approvals across the board, and the shots—and drone footage—that came from this location are absolutely breathtaking.”


Dolby Theatre

Finally, on Wednesday, Kong made it to the Hollywood Walk of Fame outside the Dolby Theatre, where the premiere was held last night.

“His final stop!” Smith says. “He finally made it to the premiere and crushed his own star on the famous Walk of Fame. Challenges—to be honest, this one was a breeze, as we integrated into the premiere setup.”

All of the Kong locations were on Waze, the traffic and navigation app—a “Kong Was Here” icon would pop up on the map as people passed by. Kong’s prints around L.A. also showed up on Google Earth during the stunt.

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@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.