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Genius Marketing: Single Button Turns Huge Black Box Into a Mobile Disco

France’s equivalent of Amtrak offers free vacations straight out of a box, to a lucky few.

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This has our vote for the most fun marketing campaign of the year: Ad giant DDB collaborated with Pleix, France’s preeminent purveyor of whimsy, to endow the Place du Palais-Royal in Paris with a big, black, magical “Escape Machine.”

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Passersby tell the machine where they want to travel, then, at the press of a button, it explodes into a dancing, bubbling, confetti-spewing fete, like some kind of jack-in-a-box straight out of the mind of Michel Gondry. Granted, some of the effects seem to have been added later, using motion graphics. But the best part: They win a free trip!

[What French person actually wants to go to England?]

The Escape Machine is an advert for SNCF, a sort of French Amtrak-turned-travel agency, and as far as guerrilla marketing goes, it ranks right up there with some of the best campaigns we’ve seen in recent months.

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More to the point, it does two things guerrilla marketing should always do: It’s got tangible stakes (vacation!), and it grabs the holy hell out of your attention. Maybe too much. The woman who won a trip to England looked like she was about to have a heart attack. Sheesh, lady. It’s only London. That’s like a San Franciscan summering in Iowa. (Although maybe she’s an actress and the whole thing is staged? Sigh.)

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D

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