25 Craziest Publicity Stunts Ever Pulled Off

Posted by , Updated on March 21, 2024

Whether they’re outrageous acts of self-advertising or crafty corporate guerilla techniques, these are the wildest publicity stunts that have ever been successfully executed!



The Train Wreck (1896)

crazy publicity stunts

In the 1890’s the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad organized a public train crash. Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, several people were killed.


Bike Race (1903)

crazy publicity stunts

Around the turn of the 20th century there was a newspaper in France called “The Car”. “The Car” decided to organize a really long bike race as a marketing effort. It was the first Tour de France.


Steal My Identity (2008)

crazy publicity stunts

To prove how effective LifeLock is as a personal identity protection company, the CEO posted his social security number on the side of a van and invited people to try stealing his identity. Only 1 person managed to get a $500 load. Not bad for a globally publicized challenge.


Bottled Messages (1959)

crazy publicity stunts

In 1959 beer company Guinness dropped several hundred thousand beer bottles into the ocean with promotional messages. Apparently they hoped that people on the beach would become customers.


The Ultimate Human Chain (1986)

crazy publicity stunts

Nearly 8 million people came together across 16 states in the US to form a chain raising money for the hungry and homeless. Each person had to pay $10 for their spot in line.


Superhero Marketing (1993)

crazy publicity stunts

When sales of D.C. comics started falling they came out with a comic title “The Death of Superman”. Sales shot back up.


Taco Liberty Bell (1996)

crazy publicity stunts

Taco Bell paid for an ad in The New York Times that claimed they had bought the liberty bell and were renaming it the “Taco Liberty Bell”. Numerous complaints later they admitted it was an April Fools Joke.


Left Handed Whopper (1998)

crazy publicity stunts

Not to be outdone, Burger King decided to come out with a Whopper that “better fit the needs of left handed people” by shifting the insides for more optimal weight redistribution. It was also an April Fool’s Day joke.


Cola Cannon (1998)

crazy publicity stunts

Richard Branson decided to launch Virgin Cola by driving a tank down Fifth Ave in NYC and shooting the Coca Cola sign.


Half.com (1999)

crazy publicity stunts

Half.com, a discount retail website paid the city of Halfway, Oregon to change its name to Half.com for one year. The stunt was successful as eBay bought the website for $300 million.


Frozen (2000)

crazy publicity stunts

After David Blaine stayed inside a large block of ice in the middle of Times Square for 60 hours he was rushed to the hospital and admitted he would never try something that crazy again.


Taco Raft (2001)

crazy publicity stunts

In another crazy marketing stunt, Taco Bell announced that if any piece of the falling Mir Space Station hit their raft in the Pacific they would give every American a free taco.


Channel Crossing (2004)

crazy publicity stunts

Branson got himself a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records by crossing the English Channel in an amphibious vehicle in 40 minutes. So far no one has been able to beat it.


Tiger Woods Tee Shot (2004)

crazy publicity stunts

He was paid $1 million by the Dubai Desert Golf Classic to come to their event. He made his first practice shot from the helipad on top of the tallest hotel in the world.


Free Eye Exams (2004)

crazy publicity stunts

After a Swiss referee made a bad call against an English team, the British supermarket chain Asda offered free eye tests to all Swiss citizens.


Extreme Scrabble (2004)

crazy publicity stunts

The company’s 60th anniversary was marked by skydivers jumping out of a plane while playing the game.


Popsicle Fail (2005)

crazy publicity stunts

Snapple tried to make the world’s largest popsicle in Union Square but the temperature was a bit higher than expected and all they got was an 18 ton blob of slush.


Presidential Shades (2006)

crazy publicity stunts

ProShade, a company that makes sunglasses offered the National Park Service a total of $4 in exchange for being able to paste their logo on each of the president’s heads at Mt Rushmore. There was no deal but ProShade got a lot of publicity.


Mission Impossible Bomb Scare (2006)

crazy publicity stunts

To promote the 3rd movie, red wired boxes that played the Mission Impossible theme song were hidden all over Los Angeles. People got scared though and police even ended up exploding some of them!


Area KFC (2007)

crazy publicity stunts

KFC drew their new logo in the desert near Area 51 so that it would be visible in Google Earth. They got a lot of curious viewers.


No Whoppers (2007)

crazy publicity stunts

When Burger King took their Whopper of the menu for a day people freaked out. Of course the restaurant got everything on tape and restored order the following day.


Massive Dice (2007)

crazy publicity stunts

The gambling website gnuf.com held the world’s largest dice roll by dropping two huge dice weighing half a ton from the air onto a mountainside in Greenland. People could watch the roll and bet on the outcome.


The Nativity Story (2008)

crazy publicity stunts

Travelodge gave any married couple who could legally prove their names were Mary and Joseph one free night in their hotel between Christmas Eve and January 5th.


Flying Penguins (2008)

crazy publicity stunts

The BBC released footage of flying penguins that were allegedly going to be a part of their new series. They soon admitted, however, that the images were only a hoax.


Space Dive (2012)

Space Dive (2012)

Red Bull had Austrian Felix Baumgartner dive from a helium balloon nearly 25 miles above the Earth. He became the second person in history to break the sound barrier without any engine power and Red Bull became the first sports drink with a space program.