The Top 15 Stunts and Innovations of 2019

The year's buzziest moments included a Harry Potter takeover, a Skittles musical and a potential jar of piss

side-by-side-by-side images of woman holding piss in vita coco jar, person singing on stage, and tinder swipe night ad
Vita Coco, Skittles and Tinder provided some of 2019's most notable stunts. Vita Coco, Dianna McDougall for Adweek, Tinder
Headshot of Ian Zelaya

It’s fitting that in a year that closes out a decade, marketers were more creative, ambitious and outlandish than ever with strategies to build brand buzz beyond the traditional ad. While we already ranked our 25 best ads of the year, we’d be remiss not to highlight some of the most culturally impactful stunts and innovations of 2019.

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From a one-night Broadway show to dating app adventures and Twitter storms, here’s a look at 15 campaign-related stunts and creations that took brand engagement to new, innovative heights this year.

15. Burger King | Silent Drive-Thru
Agency: Superson

Burger King Finland catered to Finnish introverts with a drive-thru that required zero verbal communication. The fast food company worked with Superson to create the stunt, which promoted the Burger King app in Finland. Drivers could order via the app, and then wait in the parking lot for their meal to be delivered without exchanging words with employees. According to the brand, the stunt doubled sales through the mobile app within a month of launch and continued to double month over month.

14. Tinder | Swipe Night
Agency: 72andSunny

Tinder gave its users a new way to connect on the dating app with Swipe Night, a dark, choose-your-own-adventure series targeting the Gen Z crowd. Each Sunday in October, the app gave users a chance to participate in five-minute installments of friends at a party turned apocalyptic mayhem. Players were then given seven seconds to use the swipe feature to choose what comes next. After each installment, Tinder users could display their three choices as conversation starters in their profile, matching them with others who also played the experience.

13. St. Petersburg Dalí Museum | Dalí Lives
Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners

Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí was brought back to life 30 years after his death, thanks to a partnership between the St. Petersburg Dalí Museum and Goodby Silverstein & Partners, along with some help from artificial intelligence. The agency used machine learning to resurrect the artist for the museum’s spring exhibition, Dalí Lives, which featured audio with his voice and interactive screens with his likeness. GS&P teased the exhibit by releasing three digital shorts on Jan. 23, the 30th anniversary of Dalí’s death, one of which shows the AI creation discussing his philosophical relationship with death.

12. Vita Coco | Vita Coco’s Piss Jar
Agency: Interesting Development

Brands can either be hilarious or have their responses to consumer complaints on social media completely backfire. Vita Coco took the clapback art form to new heights on Twitter. In reply to Tony Ponanski, who tweeted he’d rather drink their “social media person’s piss than coconut water,” Vita Coco offered to send him a jar of a social media staffer’s urine—complete with a picture of said staffer holding a branded jar of what appeared to be her urine.

The Twitter exchange came about after Vita Coco launched the campaign “Impossible to Hate” created by agency Interesting Development, which used a custom algorithm to find the most negative people on the Internet and see if they’d want to try the brand’s Vita Coco Pressed Coconut product. The exchange with Ponanski came after his expressed disdain for the beverage. The idea to respond with the piss jar was from community coordinator Lane Rawlings (pictured here), who had full support from the brand (which neither confirmed nor denied if the jar contained actual urine).

11. Volkswagen | Abbey Road
Agency: Nord DDB

Original cover: Apple Corps. Revised at right: Nord DDB

To mark the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ Abbey Road on Sept. 26, Volkswagen worked with Nord DDB to release a new version of the album cover, which moved the iconic Beetle to a legal parking spot (on the original cover, the white car is illegally parked on the curb). The photo stunt was designed to highlight Volkswagen’s Park Assist technology, which makes it easier to parallel park by identifying spots large enough for your car, and then automating the steering to park. Volkswagen Sweden sold the Reparked Edition of Abbey Road online and at Pet Sounds Records in Stockholm.

10. Tide | Laundry Night
Agency: Saatchi NY Ian Zelaya is an Adweek reporter covering how brands engage with consumers in the modern world, ranging from experiential marketing and social media to email marketing and customer experience.