The Museum of Hoaxes
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September Morn, the painting that shocked the censor, 1913
Cursed by Allah
The Great Space Monkey Hoax, 1953
Script of Casablanca rejected, 1982
Adolf Hitler Baby Photo Hoax, 1933
The Sandpaper Test, 1960
Bonsai Kittens, 2000
The most sacred relic: the Holy Foreskin, circa 800 AD
Fake Photos of Very Large Animals
Use your left ear to detect lies
The Cesky Sen Hypermarket, 2003
In early 2003 advertisements began to appear throughout Prague promoting a new hypermarket called Cesky Sen (or "Czech Dream") opening soon in the Lethany Fairgrounds. The ads appeared on billboards, at bus stops, in newspapers, and on TV. The store promised ultra-low prices, such as TVs for $19 and mineral water for pennies, and a special surprise for anyone who came to the grand opening on May 31, 2003.

On the day of the grand opening, hundreds of eager consumers parked their cars at the Lethany Fairgrounds and approached the store. They could see its bright colors in the distance. Shopping bags in hand, they ran across the fairgrounds, only to find... nothing but a 26x260 foot Cesky-Sen banner fluttering in the wind. This was the special surprise.

In fact, there was no hypermarket, nor plans to build one. Student filmmakers Vit Klusak and Filip Remunda had set out to record what would happen when consumer's expectations collided with reality. With the help of a grant from the Czech Ministry of Culture they had hired an ad agency to launch a massive marketing blitz to promote a non-existent store.

The Reaction

As an angry, confused crowd grew in front of the Cesky Sen banner, Klusak and Remunda got on a stage to explain their project. Some people laughed; others booed and shouted curses at the filmmakers. A few kids threw rocks at the Cesky Sen sign. But the filmmakers were prepared for this and started playing music through speakers to calm the crowd. Eventually most people shrugged and went home.

Klusak and Remunda's point was that advertisers play with our expectations all the time, raising them with big promises only to let us down by delivering nothing. What Klusak and Remunda did was no different, except they put themselves on a stage where people could throw rocks at them.

Links and References
  • Pasternak, Petra. (June 19, 2003). "Stunt fools hypermarket shoppers." The Prague Post.
Categories: Advertising, 21st Century
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.