The social media world and offices across America were joined in laughter last week when a video by Pepsi featuring race car driver Jeff Gordon exploded all over Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The video showed an unsuspecting salesperson getting put through a harrowing experience during a test drive while being recorded by hidden camera. The only problem was that it was completely fake.
In reality, that wasn’t a problem at all. It’s approaching 30 million YouTube views and has been shared over 2 million times on Facebook. The ad worked even if it was completely staged, even if the car salesperson is an actor, even if a stunt driver took the Camaro up ramps, around poles, and up to speeds that are more NASCAR than test drive level. This is advertising in 2013.
In many ways, it’s not right. The video was so well produced that most disbelief in the validity of the video were suspended just long enough to get small crowds gathered around cubicles while bosses were at lunch. It started millions of conversations on social media and sparked debates. It received the level of attention that should really only be associated with reality and the fact that it was staged takes away from the wonders of the video.
In other ways, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. We are an advanced society that knows there will be real and fake mixed in all across the internet. Part of the fun is determining whether something is real or not. Part of the fun is in deciding whether or not the fake things are clever enough to still admire despite being staged. For example, the Golden Eagle Snatches Kid video that terrified parents and acted as a rallying call for eagle hunters turned out to be a school project, but that didn’t stop it from getting over 40 million YouTube views.
Today, we don’t trust that anything is real on the internet without proof. Images are accused of being Photoshopped. Videos are easier to enhance and produce today than ever before. There are companies that work solely in determining the validity of videos. Is it really that bad that this video promoting Pepsi Max was manufactured?
If one were to break down the video, they’ll see that much of it is absolute perfection if you’re going to stage something like this. From claiming that he drives a minivan to making statements such as, “well, we better buckle up,” Gordon played his role appropriately, but the “salesperson” really nailed it. He responded exactly how one would imagine when put in that situation, all the way to the amazing look of shock and realization on his face during the reveal.
It’s the reveal, of course, that brings everything together. It anchors the video and turns it from a cruel prank to a happy story. The actor is relieved. People are clapping. He even asks a good sport question, “Want to do it again?”
The reveal makes it almost heart warming that this guy made it through the prank and has something amazing to tell his grandchildren.
Here’s the video. If there’s one complaint, it’s that it didn’t have enough Pepsi in it. In fact, there’s a very good chance that when asked about it afterwards, many people might even refer to it as the “Jeff Gordon Camaro Prank” rather than the “Jeff Gordon Pepsi Max Prank”. Chevrolet doesn’t mind at all. Neither does NASCAR.
Just in case you haven’t seen it, here’s the golden eagle video as well…
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