Hi-Tec Comes Clean: Liquid Mountaineering Campaign a Hoax

Global Sport and Outdoor Brand Hi-Tec finally admitted this month that they were the force behind the massively viral ‘Liquid Mountaineering’ video that has taken the Internet by storm over the past several weeks. The video, which shows a group of outdoorsmen literally running on water thanks to Hi-Tec shoes and has sparked controversy and conversation on the Web, has been confirmed a hoax.

I outed the company in a post I wrote last month about the ‘Liquid Mountaineering’ campaign. However, Douglas Quenqua of ClickZ spoke with Hi-Tec’s US PR manager, Dayna Panales, several days after my post and reported that Hi-Tec said they “had zero to do with” the campaign. In his post, Quenqua quotes Panales as saying, “Our Polish office gave these guys shoes and clothes as a quote-unquote sponsorship for their sport, and that’s the only involvement we had.” As it turns out, Panales statement was nothing but a cover up to hide the truth about the campaign for a while longer until Hi-Tec deemed it appropriate to come clean.

Hi-Tec admitted to being behind ‘Liquid Mountaineering’ in a press release on their site earlier this month. In the release, Hi-Tec’s Head of Marketing commented on the campaign:

“We wanted to create a piece of entertainment around our hydrophobic footwear and get people talking and thinking about the brand differently. The idea was to take a traditional form of marketing and totally turn it around on its head, in the process of capturing the fun spirited side of our brand. The reaction to the viral has surpassed all expectations; with people all over the world debating whether this could indeed be possible or not and even trying to do their own Liquid Mountaineering. We’ve seen a number of entertaining attempts appear on YouTube and other places on the Web.

“After the initial buzz and well over 4 million views on YouTube to date, we thought it was finally time to come clean and unveil to the world that Hi-Tec were behind the viral. Whilst our shoes have some amazing liquid repellency features, even we still can’t walk on water…it was all a well intended hoax.”

CCCP, an independent ad agency in Amsterdam, helped Hi-Tec pull off the ‘Liquid Mountaineering’ campaign and can bask in the glory of their success now that the campaign has been revealed as a hoax.

I still believe this is one of the greatest marketing campaigns of all time. However, it does bring up questions of ethics and morality, as it required a bit of lying on behalf of Hi-Tec’s PR team in order to pull it off. Do you think it is acceptable that Hi-Tec denied having anything to do with the ‘Liquid Mountaineering’ campaign? Their denial certainly helped spawn the controversy and conversation surrounding the campaign, but do you think it was ethical?