Why Terrifying Pranks Make the Best Advertising

A few weeks ago, a two-and-a-half minute video called Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise circulated online. The clip offered a behind-the-scenes look at how a team of filmmakers played a prank on unsuspecting New York City coffee shop patrons by building a fake wall, outfitting an actor with a wire and harness, and then cuing an actress to freak out in public and use her magical powers to suspend the guy in midair. The coffee shop was a real coffee shop—’sNice in Manhattan’s West Village—and the looks of horror on customers’ faces were genuine. The prank was funny and fascinating, and has since been watched more than 46 million times on YouTube and discussed on both Good Morning America and CNN.
 
It’s also, technically speaking, a commercial.

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