Great Experiential Marketing: WATCH_DOGS’ street hack prank


To build up some buzz about this week’s release of the WATCH_DOGS video game, game developer Ubisoft pulled a sneaky smartphone prank on innocent shoppers in Los Angeles to make them believe that they were hackers.


WATCH_DOGS, which launches this week, is a video game in which the protagonist, a highly skilled hacker, uses his mobile phone to manipulate software and systems across Chicago.

In this experiential stunt, unsuspecting passers-by enter into what they believe to be a phone repair shop – the vendor kindly fixes their phone and as a nice little bonus, he installs a cool app onto their smartphone.

From making hundreds of dollars fly out of an ATM, and changing the traffic lights, to opening the lock of a glossy sports car parked on the pavement, the shop assistant casually demonstrates to his customers-cum-victims just what this app can do.


Things eventually get out of hand, and the street light hack results in an apparent car crash; soon enough, the police hurtle onto the scene. The victims’ explanations to the police are hilarious, but even better is the look of relief on their faces once they realise they’ve been well and truly had.


The result of the experiential stunt was this viral video, which has racked up nearly 7 million views – take a look:

Ubisoft brought the game to life with this experiential activation, and showed residents of Los Angeles what it would be like to have that kind of power at their hands.

We love a good bit of Prankvertising here at Because – here are some great experiential marketing pranks we’ve spotted in the past:

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Author bio


With nearly 30 years of marketing experience, both client and agency side, I’ve acquired a rare perspective on brands and business: I believe you have to challenge things creatively if you want to grow sales. Consumer technology is reshaping our world, and it’s only the great brands that stay on the crest.