What might it look like if some sketchy characters targeted a business in the real world using cyber crime tactics? Global insurer Hiscox decided to demonstrate on a bike shop to help illustrate the threat reportedly faced by a third of British businesses.
London agency AMV BBDO coordinated the “Real World Hack” stunt for client Hiscox, which worked with execs at Brompton Bicycle to surprise employees and passersby at a brand location in Shoreditch.
In one day, the staff watched with confusion as a mirror-image shop called 3rompton opened next door, mimicked its storefront, stole its customers and even created doppelgängers of its employees. (If you’re wondering why cameras were on hand to catch the reactions, the answer is that staffers were told by their CEO that film crews would be there for the day working on a documentary about Brompton.)
The tactics used against Brompton essentially conveyed the effects of a successful phishing attack, which can impersonate a business or executive and then siphon off everything from deliveries to customers.
At one point, a sudden and confusing crowd of customers descends on the Brompton team, representing how a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack can overload a company’s servers.
Finally, the scammers even board up the real Brompton location and demand payment to release it, simulating a ransomware attack.
“Many small businesses aren’t aware of the growing threat that cyber crime poses; an attack can quickly overwhelm and paralyze a business,” says Olivia Hendrick, marketing director at Hiscox. “With ‘Real World Hack,’ we worked with the team at AMV BBDO to bring to life how hacking could feel in the real world. For us, this is a fresh and disruptive way to communicate the threat and how insurance can be a lifeline if you’re impacted.”
The AMV BBDO team felt the real-world aspect would make cyberattack seem more relatable for business owners as well as everyday internet users.
“Cyber crime lives in the shadows. It’s faceless,” says Clark Edwards, creative director at AMV BBDO. “Creating something physical to demonstrate the chaos it can bring felt like a fresh new way to talk about the problem.”
As for why Brompton would go along with a stunt so disorienting to its own staffers, the bicycle brand hoped that illustrating a knockoff store would also create more consumer skepticism about off-brand copycats.
“When people copy us, with little understanding of the engineering and care behind the design, they are trying to fool our customers who may go on to buy a potentially dangerous product,” says Will Butler-Adams, CEO of Brompton Bicycle. “We wanted to work with Hiscox to highlight these risks, as it is a serious issue and is not limited to the product but also to online cyber fraud, spam emails and viruses that hurt businesses and their customers alike.”
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