Verizon Wireless Network Prank

Over the past couple of years one of the most common ideas emailed to Improv Everywhere has been, “Get a bunch of people to stand behind someone and pretend they are the Verizon ‘network,’ like in those commercials.” We’ve literally had 300 emails over the years suggesting that idea. We got so tired of hearing it that we even put it up on the list of common suggestions on our FAQ.

The main reason we were never interested in the idea is that it would essentially just be recreating a commercial. The funny idea of “a bunch of people standing behind someone” was already in the commercial itself, and the only added comedy would be that it was being done in real life.

Well, as you can see in the video above, Verizon ended up making the idea happen on their own. Too bad they didn’t splurge for the helicopter. You’ll notice they include “Improv Everywhere” in the tags for the video. I’m not sure why, as we didn’t have anything to do with it. I guess it’s not the first time someone’s put a misleading tag on an online video.

15 thoughts on “Verizon Wireless Network Prank”

  1. It’s got to be staged, although I did like the reactions of the people in the park.

    Charlie, you on the other hand tagged this video correctly. It’s definitely viral marketing.

  2. I agree recreation of a commercial isn’t particularly creative… leave this to a candid camera style shows, where the audience watching are hardcore tv watchers and thus is funny… to them.

  3. So… apparently, crew managed to unknowingly strap a lavalier mic and transmitter on the caller! Wonderful. (But he did a good job playing the part!)

    I was waiting for him to start yelling into the phone, “I don’t even have Verizon!”

  4. Alvin makes a shrewd point. Also there had to be at least three cameramen, repeatedly waving at people not to look at the cameras.

    Even so, I thought it was hilarious, creatively done, and gutsy. The main character delivers flawlessly.

    Just a thought. Until Improv Everywhere is more than a thousandth as famous as Verizon, a “misleading tag” could be considered a heck of a compliment, and a boon, and even worth a chuckle. It might require senses of irony, attention-whorishness, and humility. Please tell me you haven’t lost those yet.

  5. @Alvin

    I noticed that too. They did somehow magically have very clear audio on the mark. I’m also curious how in the hell the would have known he had Verizon.

  6. I quite enjoyed this… I don’t think the guy was a plant. Verizon could have easily used long range directional microphones to pick up his voice. And his uncontrollable laughter when he realized what was going on sounded too real to be acting.

  7. Oh, I’m sure the guy is a plant. First of all, he says “It’s the network” (Verizon’s slogan, right?) at least 3 times. But it’s funnier for the audience if he acts like he doesn’t know.

    I’ve got to think that knowing that guy had Verizon, was standing there, and was going to make a call right then is too much coincidence. Plus it’s probably an illegal use of their phone records (if there is such a thing anymore, but I digress).

    I think this is funny and works, just because they actually got the “Can you hear me now?” guy involved. If you’re going to do it, go all the way. And they did.

    Except for the helicopter.

  8. One thought I just had– it is possible that the guy wasn’t in on it but was setup by the friend who called him. His friend could have known he had Verizon, could have asked him to meet him a specific place at a specific time, and then could have showed up late and called his buddy to get him on his phone.

    Although I still think the clarity of the guy’s voice is a little suspicious.

  9. Don’t be ridiculous. It’s not “magic”. He’s walking around talking into the microphone on his phone. How could you possibly get any clearer audio than that?

    Of course he said “it’s the network”, wouldn’t you? If you saw a giant Slinky(TM) rolling down a set of stairs, wouldn’t you say “It goes down stairs.”?

    Verizon could have EASILY set this up by getting the mob in the park and waiting for one of their customers to get on the phone.

    They send the mob out, detect a call, point the mob at it, record the audio, then get the guy to sign a release.

    Maybe the caller was part of it, maybe not. The point is that it was clever marketing, which is seemingly more and more rare.

  10. I would have loved it if the callers call dropped, he would then turn to the network and the Hear me now guy just shrugs his shoulders.

  11. @Alex, if I saw a group of people from the Verizon commercials, I’d go “Omg it’s the people from the Verizon commercial” not the “network”, I seriously doubt anyone would know what the hell the “network” was, especially considering he didn’t say the “Verizon network” he said just the “network”

    Viral marketing at its best though

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