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15 Insane Advertising Methods That Somehow Worked

15 Insane Advertising Methods That Somehow Worked


Advertisers pull a whole host of magic tricks to get to us, and some of their most risky methods have lured us in. Like those pesky jingles that get stuck in your head for years on end, these insane methods have actually worked.

Publicity stunts are a popular method of getting the attention of buyers – and such stunts have included literally dropping a man from space or painting a plane in the design of the product. Names of towns have been changed to match a promotion. Smell, one of our most powerful senses, has also been manipulated by advertisers by using the scent of their products on our unsuspecting nostrils. Photos have been used on escalators — something we often can’t avoid in malls. Another thing that can’t be avoided? Going to the restroom. Ads have been conveniently places on urinals. YouTube has been used to great effect by advertisers, creating viral videos that put us on to their product. Even insects have been used as a clever way of getting the word out about products. Utilizing welcome mats by making them multifunctional has been used by one company to sell shoes.

You’d be surprised – and impressed – at the methods advertisers have used. Keep reading for fifteen insane advertising methods – that worked.

15. Publicity Stunts


Remember back in 2012, that big news story in which Felix Baumgartner became the first human being to break the sound barrier? He fell twenty three miles from the Earth’s stratosphere. The video was put on Youtube, where it went viral and made all types of news. Well, that was all an advertising stunt.

The whole thing was engineered by Red Bull, to genius effect. Everyone was talking about the stunt for months – years after the event, and Red Bull was sure to capitalize on it by clever product placement.

It goes to show that nothing’s too crazy to push a product – especially if it works.

14. Changing the name of a town


Back during the booming days of the era, was trying to get its name out there. Well, coincidentally enough, there’s a town called Halfway in Oregon. So made a deal with the town’s residents. It gave them $110,000 and twenty free computers for one of its schools. In return, Halfway agreed to change its name to for an entire year. Though the name was not official or legal in any sense, there were some road signs that were put up as a part of the agreement.

Today, is a subsidiary of eBay, so its bizarre publicity push worked.

13. Ads that smell


Smell is one of the most powerful senses we have, so it comes as no surprise that companies such as Johnson and Johnson India would use it to push their products. For their “Power of Gentle” campaign, they ran scented ads in print media. As readers flipped through the pages, the scent of baby powder would waft into their nostrils. Another company called First Flavor did something similar, by placing scented flavored strips into print media. Readers could peel off and lick the strips, which gives them the benefit of taste and smell. Though these methods are definitely odd, they were ingenious in luring consumers to their product by hijacking their sense of smell.

12. Ads on Escalators


Escalators are pretty much unavoidable in malls, and one company used this to their benefit. Juice Salon places their ads directly on escalators, essentially forcing consumers to engage with them. The ads were photos of various hairstyles the salon provided, placed strategically on each step of the escalator. The hairstyles in the photos matched with the face of a man at the base of the stairs, providing ways the styles could potentially look on consumers. This method proved to be both effective and brilliant, providing the consumer with options he/she didn’t even know she needed, and successfully brought in customers.

11. Urinal Ads


Do you know what else is unavoidable? Having to use the restroom. Well, ESPN Brazil must have realized this, because they strategically placed an ad on a urinal in a men’s restroom. The ad worked as a game of sorts, a ball was set up in the urinal and men had to guide it into the goal. I’ll let you figure out which method the consumer was supposed to use. This daring method of advertising was definitely bold; even if consumers weren’t drawn to ESPN Brazil, they certainly told their friends about it, and word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising.

10. Flies Attached to Fliers


Insects, usually pests to most of us, were put to effective use as advertising – at a book fair of all places. A German publishing company attached banners that displayed their services to roughly two hundred flies during the fair. Natural wax was used to attach the banners to the flies, and they were purposefully designed to fall off the insects after a period of time, ensuring the flies wouldn’t be harmed. The method worked, with the flies inadvertently scattering the German companies information all throughout the fair. You have to hand it to the company for their creativity – I’m sure the last thing any of us would think of when it comes to advertising is critters.

9. Poopouri Video


Honestly, the name of this product should sell itself. Its a mix of essential oils that rid your bathroom of … odors. To advertise, the company made a Youtube video. In the video, titled “Girls Don’t Poop”, features a lovely actress in a toilet stall discussing the movement she just made. She then appears in various environments – work, party, at home, and so forth – reminding us that no one wants to leave their odors behind in these places. It may sound crude, but the video was surprisingly effective. It did its job, and the video went viral, leading consumers to this aptly named product.

8. Diamond Candles


Diamond candles. Not two words you would often think of putting together, but one company has – and uses it as its advertising. As a company, Diamond Candles sells candles with a surprise – a ring. The twist is that the ring can be valued as low as ten dollars or as high as five thousand. Other values of the rings range from one hundred or one thousand dollars. You have no idea what value ring you get when you order your candle. The method paid off, and Diamond Candles revenue increased to the million dollar range in a year and a half.

7. Fake Dogs in the Park


The Westminster Dog Show in New York is a pretty big deal. Pedigree realized this, and used the event as a way to advertise its adoption drive as well as the opening of its New York City Dogstore. Here’s how they advertised – they placed a bunch of wooden dogs in Central Park. On the dogs, they placed the message, “Wish I was here. But I’m not. Come visit me and other great shelter dogs at the PEDIGREE DOGSTORE on 46th and Broadway.” Visitors to the park were unable to avoid the odd display of dogs, which of course drew their eyes to the message luring them to the Pedigree Dogstore.

6. 3D Bubble


We’re all used to the typical ads in magazines – the sweet smelling perfume ads, the beauty products ad, the ads for new books… but gum is not a typical ad you’ll find in a magazine. And if you do, you probably barely notice it. Well, the Latin American candy company Arcor wanted to change that. When readers opened up some magazines, an Arcor ad displayed a giant 3D “gum bubble”, making it appear as if the model in the ad has just blown a bubble. Such ads were definitely noticeable and stood out, making the readers remember that crazy ad in their magazine with the 3D gum bubble.

5. Flip Flop Welcome Mats


Most of us probably ignore welcome mats, but a New York company did something to make consumers pay attention. BBDO New York reconfigured boring old welcome mats to promote flip flops. Sections of the mats were transformed into flip flops, so buyers would just slip their toes into them, lift up their feet – and voila. Instant shoes. Upon the buyers return home from the day, they would simply place their flip flops back into the open slots on the welcome mat. It was certainly an effective way of making welcome mats useful – as an advertising method instead of just a place to wipe off your dirty shoes.

4. Gum Paintings


This advertising method took care of two problems at once – getting a bubble gum ad in front of consumers and taking care of the nasty gum on the street problem that big cities have. A company called DDB designed posters for Hubba Bubba, a gum company, and placed them on walls of cities. Passersby could then essentially “paint” the poster with their gum – placing it into the carefully designed poster painting to make their own art work. The color palettes of the posters brilliants allowed for users to artfully place different flavors of gum into the makeshift painting.

3. Giant Toothpaste


Brushing our teeth is something that we all do (hopefully). With all the brands of toothpaste out there, it can be hard to choose just one. Colgate solved this problem by literally putting their toothpaste in people’s faces. They designed an enormous tub of Colgate toothpaste and attached it to the side of a building. But they went a step further. The windows were strategically lit up to look like teeth, and the tube was placed next to the window “teeth”. There was no way consumers could miss this huge ad, and the image definitely stayed with them when they went to the store to purchase their next tub of toothpaste.

2. Moon Cup vs. Tampon Rap Battle


Rap battles have become a bit of a genre on YouTube, mostly for entertainment purposes. But one company took said rap battles into effective – and hilarious – use. A company called Moon Cup used the rap battle platform to illustrate the benefits of their product over tampons. The edgy use of lyrics as opposed to the typical vanilla ad often used in magazines and commercials definitely made the product stand out. With an entertaining and surprisingly catchy beat, the Moon Cup product essentially takes down tampons in favor of its superior product. Even if you’re not in need of feminine hygiene products, its worth checking out this unique and funny ad on YouTube.

1. Fake Beer Domain


When you think of personal finance blogs, chances are you don’t think of beer. Well, the founder of The Penny Hoarder, a personal finance blog, was in a bit of a pickle a few years ago. He was trying to make his blog stand out from all the other blogs out there. His was different in that it centered on odd ways of making money rather than your traditional budgeting tips. So he made bumper stickers pointing consumers to a faux domain –, which directed users to The Penny Hoarder, where they could learn how to get free beer, and other unique money making tips.

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