Forget Staged Ad Hoaxes—The New Marketing Standard Is Genuine Terror And Trauma

In a new (barely) parody video, agency John St. introduces its new exFEARiential practice.

Our ability as consumers to ignore advertising has forced marketers to re-evaluate how they are sending messages on behalf of brands. Some have gone with utility, others hit with entertainment, and some have actively tried to create a meme-able experience with Candid Camera-style stunts that depict seemingly innocent people being scared out of their wits.

We've seen Carrie in a coffee shop and disastrous job interviews, but now Toronto agency John St. has decided to take things to the next level with ExFEARiential advertising.

"People aren't paying attention to ads anymore so our job is to make them pay attention," says creative director Chris Hirsch in this hilariously stone-faced case study video. "Most ads you can ignore, ours you can't escape."

This isn't the first time John St. has parodied an adland trend; previous efforts have spoofed web kitties and going viral, but given how some very real past campaigns have gone, this one might hit the closest to home.

Let's just hope no brands takes Hirsch seriously when he hints at what's next. "You've heard of sending people into space? Well, we're going to do that, only we're not going to bring them back."

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  • YouSeriousBro?

    This is disgusting. I've been assaulted before, and if any of these victims are like me, they fight back.

    I'd love to see this get tried in a USA city that allow sealed gun permits.

  • Chris

    Easy there kids. Read the article. This is a parody that is lampooning the stupidity that is fear based advertising. No Babies were harmed in the making of this *parody*

  • YouSeriousBro?

    The more realistic direction in the future is neuromarketing. And this parody is actually a form of neuromarketing, by the way it affects victims.

  • YouSeriousBro?

    This is a good point, but would you really expect an advertising company NOT to stoop this low?

    A Texas sign company recently went under fire this year for creating hyperrealistic "Tied-Up Woman" decals that get put on the loading bed of pickup trucks. People have called the police on people driving trucks with the decal, thinking there is actually a tied up and kidnapped woman in the truck bed.

  • Vincent Engelbrecht

    So what happens when they break into a house and the people inside defend themselves with guns?

  • abc

    This makes zero sense. If a friend of mine played a bad joke like this I'd hit him. If a stranger kid napped my baby and said it was a joke I'd definitely hit him.

  • Daniel Lowe

    If an advertiser pulls a street prank on me that causes "trauma and distress", they'd better be ready for a lawsuit.

  • Steve

    Beware of these ads. We have
    and have had enough trauma in our lives. The very thing they try to do
    with their ads is what people struggle with in their lives and work hard to recover from.

    This is unbelievably wrong nd damaging!!