Man Pretends to Be a Celebrity, So People Treat Him Like One

Stealth marketing, or just an ad for Brett Cohen?

Here's a candidate for viral stunt of the year: A 21-year-old student named Brett Cohen assumes the trappings of a reality star—bodyguards, paparazzi and a ridiculous striped button-down—and waltzes into Times Square. There, his illusion is sufficient to set a gaggle of tourists—culturally primed to gush at the sight of a camera and dazzled into a heightened state of idiocy by the sheer volume of advertising stimuli in their immediate surroundings—to babble on about how much they love Cohen's music and acting careers, neither of which exists. It's a picture-perfect portrait of America in 2012. It also feels a little like a stealth marketing campaign (NBC's Rockefeller Center marquee makes a cameo), even though it's getting covered as news by local outlets. Either way, it's a great ad for Cohen. If he's not already working in advertising, he should be. Via Animal.
     UPDATE: We got an email alleging that Cohen's idea was a ripoff and linking to a video that was produced earlier this year. The email reads: "Brett Cohen shouldn't be nominated for viral stunt of the year, but maybe viral copier of the year. My team and I did this in April. If you pay close attention, he rips off everything from us, right down to using Spiderman."