Fake ads build presence for TV show

Is honesty always the best policy when it comes to custom screen printing? Of course, it's important not to lie to your potential customers, but there are also ways to come up with creative solutions that sneakily promote your brand.

AdWeek recently interviewed one of the men behind a covert marketing campaign for the upcoming WEtv program Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars.

The president of that network, Mark Juris , confirmed that billboards which had appeared to be advertisements for the law office of "Society for the Prevention of Celebrity Divorce" were actually part of a sneaky ad strategy to promote the upcoming show.

The stark advertisements feature the image of a man identified as "J. Robert Butler," attacking the idea of separation among celebrities.

Given one glance, it might appear not unlike so many ads for legal services or different action groups. The campaign even included vehicle graphics on buses.

Juris said that this approach was meant to be more effective with a public who is so used to seeing "overt" advertising pieces. Creating this fake piece apparently involved a lot of effort to create the "character" of Butler.

"It was consciously done to make it seem like someone like him would think it was a good billboard, American values, low-fi," Juris said. "We placed him from Utah in our own heads. What would a guy from Utah who was a used car dealer use as his billboards?"

Hoaxes and viral tactics like this need to be handled carefully so the public doesn't feel duped when they find out the truth.

Earlier this year, a stunt campaign that appeared to be marketing a device to turn water into wine was revealed to be promotional for a non-profit organization. The end result might have left consumers feeling confused rather than enlightened.

Companies can use tricks like this and incorporate them into their advertising, but need to do so thoughtfully.