The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
Taco Bells buys the Liberty Bell, 1996
Swiss peasants harvest spaghetti from trees, 1957
Old-Time Photo Fakery, 1900 to 1919
A black lion: real or fake?
Fake Fish Photos
The Cradle of the Deep, a literary hoax, 1929
Tube of liquor hidden in prohibition-era boot, 1920s
Iceberg floats into Sydney Harbor, 1978
Eccentric's last prank, 66 years after his death, 1900
The Crown Prince Regent of Thulia, 1954
The Donside Lying Contest
The Donside Paper Company had for years sponsored an annual contest for graphic design students. In 2000, to spice things up a bit, the company decided to give its contest a slightly different spin. Entrants were challenged to respond to one of three briefs: 1) to promote the Bermuda Triangle as a holiday destination; 2) to design a welcome pack for a shopaholics' association; or 3) to tell a lie convincingly.

The competition seemed to be going well, and many entries had already been received, when the participating colleges received a letter on Donside stationery explaining that the contest had regrettably been cancelled. Obediently, the schools began to turn away new entries. In a panic, Donside called to ask what they were doing, and only then did the schools realize their mistake. The cancellation letter had itself been an entry from a contestant who had taken the challenge to "tell a lie convincingly" to heart. Hundreds of letters and phone calls were required to rectify the situation. However, the colleges took it all in stride. One of them commented, "Isn't it funny — it's the ultimate lie."

Fooled Again

Having recovered from their embarrassment, the schools hastily sought to wrap up the contest, but they were delayed when they received a fax from Donside announcing that the closing date had been moved back a month and that all entries would have to be resubmitted. Wearily, the schools began to contact all the contestants, until they realized they had been tricked again.

Donside, to its credit, took the pranks with good humor. It announced that it had no intention of punishing the mischievous contestants. In fact, it was quite willing to judge their entries alongside the others. It made good on this promise when Cleo Cobb and Colleen Pugh of the Edinburgh College of Art came forward and admitted to being responsible for the rogue entries. Bill Gore, the Chief Executive of Donside, personally awarded them prizes in recognition of their creativity.

Links and References
  • Claudia Joseph. (May 5, 2000). "Pranksters graduate in fine art of spoofing." The Independent.
  • "Fib hoax hits liars." (March 31, 2000). The Mirror.
  • Ken Banks. (March 31, 2000). "Fact and fiction blurred in liars' contest." The Scotsman.
Commenting is no longer available for this post.

All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.