There are numerous pranks and all sorts of tomfoolery going on in the world of YouTube.  And brands can do things they normally can’t do on a normal ad, like make it longer, or have bleeped/unbleeped swears, or in general content they could not otherwise do on TV.  I watched Pepsi MAX’s ad featuring Jeff Gordon where Gordon puts on a disguise and pretends to be a naive car shopper who inevitably takes the car salesman down that long and winding road to Hades by driving a Camaro in a reckless fashion, scaring the living daylights out of the guy and creating viral momentum.

But If It’s Fake, Does It Work?

I guess the point of any ad really is brand awareness, right?  And with this ad, they at the very least get that accomplished:

But the problem is, there is far too much legal wrangling that would have to be a part of an ad like this.  Gordon is tearing through a fairly obvious closed course, but to have the salesman not know what he’s in for would be irresponsible because of medical issues: likelihood of having a heart attack is a big one.  The other thing is, yeah, Gordon is an incredibly skilled race car driver, but what if something happens during the drive where someone got hurt?  Mistakes happen all the time.  It would be a disaster for a company like Pepsi to put someone even in the slightest bit of harm’s way without their knowledge and if they get hurt or killed, then there is a huge legal mess after that which destroys the brand name.

But the question is…even if it’s fake, does it take away from the entertainment value, or prevent the brand from achieving the ultimate end of the ad, which is to remind people Pepsi MAX is a thing?  I think this ad does exactly what it’s supposed to do.  Many people think it’s real, and that’s great for Pepsi.  The people who think it’s fake, will talk about how fake it is (like I’m doing now…I’m basically giving Pepsi free pub right now).  And there will always be variations like, people who think it’s real still think it’s a horrible ad, people who think it’s fake might still love it.

This ad has traits along the lines of an earlier viral hit towards the end of last year:

That it might be real would be amazing.  When you find out it’s fake, is it so amazing anymore?

I give kudos to the Pepsi ad for at least putting in the tiny details that make it look like it might be real, and in the end, it’s still kind of funny to see a guy put through the wringer like that even if I feel he’s in on it.