Tesco’s Viral Prank

Tesco, the United Kingdom-based grocery chain, isn’t messing around this Halloween. They got in the spirit by pranking customers at one of their stores and catching the entire act on video.

Tesco seems to be following the “formula” for creating buzz with this new video. Tesco…

  1. Used something topical (Halloween) as the basis of the video
  2. Engaged with their customers in some out-of-the-box fashion
  3. Filmed customers’ reactions
  4. Posted the video on YouTube with the hope of it going viral

With 1.5 million views on YouTube, I would say it was pretty successful. But now that the video has reached its goal, what is Tesco expecting as an outcome? Are sales supposed to skyrocket because of increased mention of the brand?

Instead of immediately increasing sales, they may be taking a less direct approach. Halloween is now the third biggest retail event in the UK behind Christmas and Easter, so Tesco may be attempting to position themselves as the go-to spot for everything related to Halloween because they’re truly “in the spirit.”

It’s hard to say what Tesco’s specific intention for creating this video, but it’s the very same road many companies are taking to attract attention. This tactic seems effective, but for how long? Soon, our social media feeds will be so saturated with advertisement viral videos that we won’t watch them. It seems like some of these videos are overdone and redundant; I’m sure we all remember the millions of “Harlem Shake” videos that went viral a few years ago.

How long do you think this viral video ad trend will last? Do you think companies should continue riding the wave of the trend or look for a new, fresher approach?

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7 Responses to Tesco’s Viral Prank

  1. Courtney Bannon says:

    I don’t mind the viral video ad trend. I do think you have to be good at it, though. Having an attempt flop is embarrassing.

    In this particular instance, I have to wonder if they considered possible backlash. Halloween is one of those “holidays” that some individuals are very opposed to. It would be interesting to know if that was discussed.

  2. Catherine Hahne says:

    There is always the next viral video that will be posted. It seems like everyday there is a new viral something that everyone needs to look at.
    In the UK, Tesco’s is everyones’ go to supermarket, when you need to go to the grocery store you go to Tesco’s. I think this video is more of a show that they are involved in the community and that they love the holidays. I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t the first video in a string of holiday videos that Tesco’s will be putting out this upcoming year.
    I don’t think this video is used to increase sales, I think this video was posted with the idea that they are showing everyone that they are also apart of the community and wanted to participate in the holiday.

  3. Morgan Rath says:

    I think this was a brilliant idea. The trick with these viral videos, in my opinion, is to make them look as natural as possible. The less they look like a commercial or marketing stunt, the better. I think Tesco hit the mark with this video. It is funny and looks like it was released just in time for Halloween. It seems like a light-hearted video and does not have an explicit ‘visit Tesco’ call-to-action. Now that the holiday is over, I think the video will die down in popularity; however, I think viral videos are a successful enough tactic to warrant the creation of a repeat video. The only update that should be made is a shift in which holiday or event the video aligns with.

  4. Alexandria Coleman says:

    I like this video and other viral video ads like it. I don’t think that they were looking to increase sales, nor do I think they need to have a narrowly defined outcome like “increase sales by X percent.” I see this more as a clever way to position the brand as one that is fun, friendly, and as another colleague of mine mentioned, as a one-stop shop for the holidays. I agree that viral videos come and go, but I think an effective viral ad is remembered long after it went viral. I know that when I go visit my mom in England that this video will probably come to mind when I go to Tesco. Prior to this video, I had fairly neutral feelings about the grocery chain. Now, I have some sort of positive association with them, which makes me more likely to shop there over another store I have never heard of. I am sure I am not the only one of the 2.3 million people who viewed this on YouTube who feels this way. With that in mind, I think this is a huge success. Should this be their only method of communicating with their audience? Of course not. However, I think it is a good strategy within a larger communications plan.

  5. Johana Soto says:

    I think this was an interesting approach to getting in the spotlight during Halloween. I don’t think these videos will last very long. People watch them because it gets everyone in the mood for the holiday but once that ends so will the hype for the videos. It loses its humor once it stops being relevant. I think they should look for a new, fresher approach. Something that also allows them to involve the customers but in a way that makes consumers and possible consumers think of them more than just during a certain time of the year. I do think this was a good attempt at getting attention and since they got so many views, it was successful.

  6. Cattarina Lovins says:

    Tesco’s viral video stunt was genius in how effective, fun and out-of-the-box it was; however, I do agree that Tesco’s desired outcome is unclear. Had they determined their desired outcome or goal beforehand, as PR campaigns should be done, the video would’ve been even more effective. As for how long the viral video ad trend will last, I would argue that it’s here to stay because there are TV shows like “Right This Minute” and segments on news channels dedicated to viral videos. Plus, sites like YouTube with over a billion users, according to YouTube, facilitate this type of entertainment and engagement, and social media serves to enhance it with its sharing capabilities.

  7. Margaret Staniforth says:

    While I agree with you that these videos won’t hold the public’s attention forever, I do think that they are a good way to spread brand recognition and engage the public. The brand is positioning itself as playful, entertaining and fun. They may have to change their tactics over time, but they are currently reaching large audiences worldwide with their videos.

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