This Weed Killer’s Clever TV Ad Spread Like a Weed From One Channel to the Next

Following preroll stunt, 'Prickly' jumps to television

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Television ads are rarely interactive in any meaningful way. But a recent Canadian campaign for Scotts-owned weed killer Weed B Gon was a notable exception—cleverly urging viewers to follow a garrulous weed from one TV channel to the next in real time, the campaign spreading much like a weed itself.

The work, by agency Rethink, started with a TV spot starring Pricky, the brand’s annoying shouty spokesweed, who is seen multiplying until he’s “[bleeping] everywhere!” Pricky then tells us he’s even spreading to the Food Network on channel 56—and dares viewers to go see for themselves.

Viewers who clicked over to the Food Network indeed found Prickly continuing to yell at them, before telling them to turn to another network. This continued a few more times. Viewers who stuck with Prickly for the duration received a reward of sorts—they got to see him sprayed in the face with Weed B Gon, causing him to shrivel up and die.

Check out the edited-together clips here:

The media plan here is quite impressive, as it involved getting a number of stations on board to air spots at precise moments. Rethink worked with MediaEdge Canada to make those arrangements.

“We had the stations and timings before the copy was finalized, so Prickly could lead people to the right channel at the exact perfect moment,” Rethink creative director Aaron Starkman tells us. “We knew Prickly would be on The Food Network two seconds after he ended on another channel, so we emphasized things like that in the creative from commercial to commercial.”

It’s hard to imagine too many people actually clicking around at Prickly’s request (we’ve asked for data on that, and will update this story if we get it), but the campaign certainly gets points for trying something different.

This isn’t Prickly’s first fun advertising stunt. Last year he appeared in a preroll ad for Weed B Gon that included a “Kill Prickly” button above the “Skip ad” button. Those who clicked “Kill Prickly” got to skip the annoying middle half of the ad—and fast-forward straight to Weed B Gon’s cathartic murder of Prickly.

Client: Weed B Gone (Scotts)
Agency: Rethink, Toronto
Creative Director: Aaron Starkman
Writer: Aaron Starkman
Account Supervisor: Scott Lyons
Editing: Married to Giants
Audio: keen, Kai Koschmider
Media Agency: MediaEdge Canada

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