How to use Shock (Emotion) to market brands?

Emotion_Shock_Marketing_stopthetraffik_Girls going wild in red light district_sparrowmountain_TaoJiang

Girls going wild in red light district_stopthetraffik

More and more brands started to use shock marketing to trigger intense emotion and reach social share. Some are brilliant thought and done, while some are just mediocre pranks.

Here listed are some examples from different brands:

Shock Marketing

Volkswagen collaborates with YouTube make-up star Nikkie to promote: Don’t make up and drive. 

Please Don’t Make Up & Drive.

I don’t want to ruin the experience. You have to watch it first yourself. It was unexpected and effectively delivered the message. With the combination of the YouTube star influencer and social media, the campaign reached 96,443 YouTube views.

Videographer Thomas Leveritt did a non-commercial experiment: show how people look like when they don’t put on sunscreen. The results really shocked many people.  It was a great idea and simple effective execution. The video got 15,167,660 YouTube views.

How the sun sees you?   (Non-commercial project)

Girls going wild in red light district

This campaign was an excellent example from concept to execution. It happened in Amsterdam’s red light district where people were expecting to see stripers in windows. Unexpectedly they started to dance…I really don’t want to ruin the experience so you have to watch the video first. The surprise ending really sticks in our mind. The video got 12,513,825 YouTube views.

The stopthetraffik campaign was brilliant because:

  • Great concept and perfect location for execution 
  • Take serious society issue with light-hearted approach
  • Great entertaining show to get attention first
  • Connect with emotion: shock, unexpected
  • Challenge viewers to think, let people to face the fact that they normally would ignore


In 2013, New York video marketing agency, Thinkmodo, brought superpower into a regular coffee shop: Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise. The video got 62,292,715 YouTube views.

Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise

This video went viral because:

  • Connect with emotion: unexpected, shocking, magic
  • Happened in real life 
  • Fun to watch people’s reaction
  • Make people wonder and question 

When AMC’s The Walking Dead returns on TV, it was a perfect time to ask Zombies to do the promotion: In New York, people disguised as zombies hid under the drain and randomly scare the unexpected pedestrians. The video got 5,257,957 YouTube views.

The Walking Dead Zombies Prank NYC

I see more and more prank like those were used to advertise the brands over the last few years. Another example: scary Chucky suddenly jump out of a bus-stop sign with a knife to scare the people who were waiting for the bus. The video got 19,836,185 YouTube views.

Personally I don’t really like to be scared randomly and have a heart attack, certainly not by marketing campaigns. But is that effective? People online couldn’t stop sharing those videos because they find it funny to watch others to be scared. So it is effective after all, despite my disliking.

See Other posts:

Billboard Innovation- How can billboards get people’s attention? Part 1 

How to use Happiness to market brands?

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