The Museum of Hoaxes
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The Hoax Museum Blog
Category: Advertising
Fake Coffee with the News — Product placement has reached the TV news. On the desk in front of the anchors of Las Vegas's Fox 5 TV news sit two cups of McDonald's iced coffee. McDonald's is paying for the coffee to be there. But the best part: it's not real coffee. It's just a plastic simulation of iced coffee. From the Las Vegas Sun: The anchors aren’t even supposed to acknowledge them, McDonald’s reps explain. That’s part of their genius, my little lambs! They get into your mind without you knowing it. So they…
Posted: Wed Jul 23, 2008.   Comments (10)

Is the Wii Fit girl video a covert marketing campaign? — Just as popular recently as the Office Freakout video (posted about below), has been a video titled "Wii Fit - Why You Should Buy It For Your Girlfriend." It's one minute of a girl in her underwear working out with the Nintendo Wii Fit as her boyfriend ogles her. There's been a lot of speculation that the video is a (not-so) covert marketing campaign by Nintendo. People grew even more suspicious after it was discovered that the woman in the video, 25-year-old Lauren Bernat, and her…
Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2008.   Comments (14)

Office Freakout Video Turns Out to be Fake — For the past few weeks a video (apparently Russian) of some guy freaking out at his office has been doing the rounds. Tobester posted about it in the forum, speculating that it was real. But no, it isn't. Wired reports that it was covert marketing for the upcoming movie Wanted, starring Morgan Freeman and Angelina Jolie: The undercover advert hit its target spot-on, amassing nearly 4 million views and almost 5,500 Diggs in the week since it was posted. The video is supposed to invoke…
Posted: Thu Jun 12, 2008.   Comments (5)

Todd Davis’s Social Security Number — Todd Davis, CEO of LifeLock, claims his company offers such a high level of identity-theft protection that he's willing to advertise his own social-security number. (It's 457-55-5462.) He's that sure no one is going to be able to steal his identity. Many criminals are quite happy to take him up on the challenge. From Yahoo! News: Davis acknowledged in an interview with The Associated Press that his stunt has led to at least 87 instances in which people have tried to steal his identity,…
Posted: Thu May 22, 2008.   Comments (11)


Unreal Beauty — The models in Dove's "Real Beauty" campaign (whose tagline was "we believe real beauty comes in many shapes, sizes and ages") may have benefitted from some "digital plastic surgery." From The Telegraph: Pascal Dangin, a celebrated retoucher of fashion pictures, claimed the Dove women were far from au naturel. In an interview with New Yorker magazine, Mr Dangin, who runs Box Studios in New York, a company which retouches photographs and does regular work for Vogue, and the fashion…
Posted: Mon May 12, 2008.   Comments (25)

Ticketmaster Creates Fake Facebook Friends — From the Wired music blog: "It appears that the company [Ticketmaster] hired someone or something to create fake Facebook friends in order to look more popular to other Facebook users." I can understand why Ticketmaster would need to create fake friends. I recently bought tickets to see The Cure. After paying $35 for each ticket, I found out I also had to pay a $20 "convenience charge" to Ticketmaster, which didn't make me feel very friendly toward them.
Posted: Tue Apr 22, 2008.   Comments (9)

Food Advertising vs. Reality — The German website pundo3000.com has assembled a collection of 100 food products and compared what each one looks like, as shown on the packaging, to the actual product. In the majority of cases the difference is quite dramatic. But a few of the food products hold up pretty well in real life. For instance, the Milka chocolate bar looks almost exactly the same as it does on the packaging. But the roll (shown below) looks pretty unappetizing. Funtasticus.com has collected all the images…
Posted: Tue Mar 25, 2008.   Comments (12)

Extreme Street Soccer — The following video shows kids (maybe in Brazil, I'm guessing) performing extreme freestyle soccer tricks. The tricks are pretty cool, but of course they're fake. The flips may be real, but the soccer ball must have been digitally inserted into the shots. The video is a viral ad for a new playstation game, FIFA Street 3. It reminds me of that Nike ad featuring Ronaldinho that was going around two years ago.
Posted: Mon Feb 25, 2008.   Comments (19)

Obay — Recently strange ads for a drug called "Obay" began appearing around Toronto. The ads were pretty obviously satirical, but who was responsible for them? The Church of Scientology was an early suspect, since they're well known for their anti-psychiatry stance. But it turned out they had nothing to do with the ad campaign. The Torontoist tracked down the real culprit. It's an advocacy group called Colleges Ontario, which represents twenty-four colleges in Ontario. The Torontoist writes:
Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008.   Comments (7)

Watson’s Living Curiosities — This poster for "S. Watson's American Museum of Living Curiosities", which dates from 1885, can be found at the British Library site. All the exhibits seem like pretty standard stuff for a 19th-century museum: the stoutest lady in the world, the two-headed marvel, snake charmer, etc. It's the "Australians" exhibit that puzzles me. They don't really look like Australians. Are those outfits something that Aussies often wear?
Posted: Wed Feb 20, 2008.   Comments (10)

Is that a cockroach beneath the pizza? — Here's an ad, apparently created by a Brazilian extermination company, that is placed inside pizza boxes. The ad shows a photo of a dead roach, but it's only revealed as the pizza is removed from the box. I'm sure the ad would attract people's attention, but I find it surprising that a pizza company would agree to place an ad like this beneath their food. No word on if it's a real ad campaign, or just a mock up. (via nulovka via adrants)
Posted: Thu Feb 14, 2008.   Comments (9)

Is it art or copying? — Cranky Media Guy sent me an interesting link to an article published last December in the New York Times about the artist Richard Prince. He's described as a pioneer of "appropriation art." What this means is that Prince takes photographs of other photographer's photographs, and then displays them as his own. For instance, he had an exhibit at the Guggenheim about cowboys, which basically consisted of photographs of Marlboro ads. The guy who actually took the images for the Marlboro…
Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2008.   Comments (26)

“Less Wrinkles” — This ad, which has been running on digg, seems like a particularly egregious example of false advertising. Of course, if anyone would challenge the company in court they could say, "we never actually claimed our product could make an old lady look like a young model. That picture, as the disclaimer indicates, is merely simulated imagery." The grammar cop in me also has to point out that it should be "fewer wrinkles," not "less wrinkles." (via adrants)
Posted: Wed Jan 30, 2008.   Comments (6)

Jontex Condom Ad - Possible Hoax — The image to the right shows what is supposedly a guerrilla marketing campaign by Jontex, a Brazilian brand of condoms owned by Johnson & Johnson. The campaign involves a cardboard cutout that can be positioned beneath the door of a bathroom stall. The Brazilian phrase translates to, "You do not know when it can be necessary." But strangely, Johnson and Johnson is denying responsibility for the ad. Or, at least, the folks who run the Johnson and Johnson blog claim it's not their…
Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2008.   Comments (3)

Cheer Chains — If you've been to Starbucks in the past week or so, you've been at risk of finding yourself trapped in a "cheer chain." What this means is that the person in line in front of you pays for your drink, and in return you're supposed to pay for the drink of the person behind you. This goes on and on, ad nauseam. The Associated Press reported on one cheer chain that totaled 1,013 customers. The question is, are these cheer chains a true spontaneous phenomenon, or are they a cynically…
Posted: Sun Dec 23, 2007.   Comments (16)

Misleading Papa Johns Ad — Here's another case of a misleading claim in an advertisement. This time from Papa Johns, who offers unlimited toppings, as long as you have a maximum of no more than five toppings. (posted by Nave_7 on flickr.) Related posts: Deceptive Ad (Dec 3, 2007) Deceptive Sign (Sep 10, 2007)
Posted: Mon Dec 17, 2007.   Comments (13)

Deceptive Ad — Here's another example of a retailer creating a misleading display for their product. It's not technically a lie, but it certainly could confuse a shopper who didn't pay close attention. The image has been circulating around the internet recently. Unfortunately, I can't remember where I first saw it. Related Post: Deceptive Sign. Update: The image was first posted on Consumerist.com, emailed to them by "William" who saw it at a Toys R Us. (Though I figured out that I first saw it via…
Posted: Mon Dec 03, 2007.   Comments (11)

The Happy Endings Foundation — The Happy Endings Foundation believes that all children's books should have happy endings. Those that don't should be banned. The organization was (supposedly) started seven years ago by Adrienne Small after she noticed that her daughter seemed miserable after reading Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. Mrs. Small plans to rewrite the Lemony Snicket books to give them a happy ending. Some upcoming events planned by the Happy Endings Foundation include a Halloween "fun…
Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2007.   Comments (1)

Cursed Japanese Kleenex Commercial — A commercial for Kleenex that aired in Japan during the 1980s became the focus of an urban legend. Derek Bassett last year described the legend on his blog Mohora: So the story is this commercial for Kleenex tissues was shown on Japanese TV back in 1986 or so. It features an actress in a white dress sitting next to a child made up to look like a baby ogre. There is a really creepy song in a foreign language that when researched, is actually an old German folk song with the words “Die,…
Posted: Mon Oct 01, 2007.   Comments (8)

Deceptive Sign — I saw the following deceptive sign blogged about on LAist: It seems to advertise a dozen roses for $4, but on closer inspection it's actually advertising a dozen roses for $10. A classic bait and switch scam. I wrote about some similar advertising scams in Hippo Eats Dwarf. My favorites were the Cleveland Finance Loan Company which enticed those seeking a loan with this offer: "Pay nothing til first payment." Dunkin Donuts offered: "Free 3 muffins when you buy 3 at the regular 1/2…
Posted: Mon Sep 10, 2007.   Comments (8)

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