How Improv Everywhere creates viral pranks for brands l Digiday
Charlie Todd is comfortable wearing his underwear on the subway or walking into a Best Buy dressed like one of their employees. That's because he's usually accompanied by hundreds of others when he pulls off one of his stunts. As the visionary and leader of Improv Everywhere, Todd's been cooking up these massive public scenes for more than 14 years.
It all started off as weekend pranks with his improv buddies, whether they pretended to be U2 giving a live performance on a New York City rooftop or riding the subway in their underwear. More than 100 events later, Todd continues to churn out new ones especially in collaboration with brands like Target, ESPN, and Fandango.
"Improv Everywhere is very selective about the brands we work, and the projects have to be a good fit," said Todd. "It's usually something we already wanted to do, and a brand is able to enhance it. By bringing in a budget we're able to do something that's above and beyond what we'd normally do."
Todd said he'll often pass on working with brands that want their logo or product overtly prominent during the event. "The majority of them end up not being fits because someone wants to make a commercial."
The Improv Everywhere audience and participants will be "immediately turned off by a product placement shot that is obviously shoehorned into a video," said Todd. "The best brands are the ones just want to create something that's great."
Watch our View from the Top interview with Todd to find out which brand partnerships were most successful and why.
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