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LG’s Theater of Fear Marketing

If you are a leading hi-tech audio video manufacturer wanting to demonstrate the superiority of your latest products video and audio capabilities, the process can be real challenging.  The problem becomes apparent when attempting to demonstrate that super video format or surround quality when the new technology must be demonstrated to consumers on a competitor’s inferior equipment.  So what to do when confronted with this conundrum?  In the case of the electronics giant LG, they weren’t above scaring the bejesus out of unsuspecting viewers to make their point   The electronics giant took to Chile recently to shoot a hidden-camera prank commercial.  LG marketers replaced the window in an office of a high-rise building with one of its Ultra HD TVs, Ultra HD TVs, or 4K TVs as some call them, are supposed to offer a clearer image than any other types of TV currently on the market. The sets offer a resolution four times greater than that of regular HD TVs.  LG’s “prank ad” went viral on YouTube just hours after its release.

In the video, unsuspecting job seekers walk into the outfitted room for a job interview and sit across from the fake window in front of an actor who is playing a potential employer. All the while, the Ultra HD TV window displays a city skyline.  But in the middle of the interview, a bright light starts to shine out of the top left corner of the TV, and, slowly, a meteor creeps into view.  The job seekers try to keep calm as long as possible, but eventually they all freak out and take cover on the floor, behind a desk as certain life ending consequences approach from beyond the “fake” window.  After the lights come back up and the simulated dust settles it becomes obvious, from the reaction of the pranked, that they are genuinely scared, nearly to death by some accounts. Also evident is the fact that the victims and viewers of the ad will never forget their experience with LG’s new technology, positive or negative.

It’s not the first time that LG marketing executives have resorted to sensational scare tactics to promote one of their product offerings.  Recently the Brazilian hidden camera show “Programa Silvio Santos” aired clips of people screaming in terror at a ghostly girl in a broken elevator. The video was posted to YouTube, where it quickly garnered more than 7 million views and last October, in yet another prank, LG created an elevator floor out of computer monitors. When someone got on the elevator, the monitors made it look like the elevator floor was collapsing underneath the person’s feet. Hidden cameras caught it all, and the video went on to receive more than 15 million views.

If the “view” counts equates to success than the commercials will be judged to be very successful.  However, if the terrifying, negative experience of the prospective consumers, turned LG victims, outweighs the products benefits LG may see their antics turn negative, very negative, over time.

To some well-experienced marketers, LG’s tactics may be seen as a cheap prank to divert potential customer’s attention and focus away from the real features, benefits and performance of new “superior” technology into a sort of high browed, “slight-of- hand”, theater.  In the end LG may find that the last laugh may be on them if their penchant to create fear and mayhem on unsuspecting consumers exceeds their perceived skills and reputation for successfully marketing superior electronic devises.  Consumers may be scared into buying a gas mask on the eve of Armageddon, but how many of us will really be frightened into buying our next television?

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