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The Nivea prank that had airplane passengers sweating

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This is an encore episode that aired originally on March 8, 2014.

How Nivea pranked travelers, Evian made babies dance and other viral brand videos.


Evian “Roller Babies”

One of the most notable was the video for Evian Water.

Evian, three times more expensive than most competitors, was losing market share to cheaper bottled waters.

So a hilarious video called Roller Babies was shot in 2009. It featured babies pulling off jaw-dropping dance moves on roller skates to the song Rapper’s Delight by the Sugarhill Gang.

The tagline was: “Live Young.”

While Roller Babies had a TV version, it went viral as a video. It broke the Guinness Book of World Records for the most viewed viral film ever – with 66 million YouTube views and over 170 million online views.

Yet, with that incredible viral success, the Business Insider news website reported that Evian’s sales went down.

And the Daily Mail reported that Evian’s share of the bottled water market was just 0.3 per cent, down from 1.2 per cent a decade earlier.

I suspect those two widely viewed videos managed to stop Evian’s decline, but clearly, even wild viral success doesn’t always translate into wild sales success.


Nivea “Stress Test”

One of the ways advertisers try to get a video to go viral is to be bold and outrageous.

Nivea tried that tactic recently with a video called “The Stress Test.”

In a German airport, Nivea ambushed a series of people in the waiting areas. The Nivea staff hid behind a wall, picked out specific passengers, and secretly took their picture.

Then, using digital technology and remarkably quick response time, they printed a fake newspaper with the passenger’s picture on the front page with a headline saying they were a wanted criminal.

In one instance, a Nivea staff member sat across from a young female passenger and casually read the fake newspaper. The second the girl spotted her wanted face on the newspaper, a fake news story appeared on television sets in the waiting area, showing the same picture, and describing the fugitive passenger perfectly.

The victim’s panic grows with each passing moment, and other passengers begin to point and stare. Then the German authorities walk up to her.

The passenger, almost beside herself, can barely speak. At that exact moment, the authorities ask if she is “stressed” – and open a case they are carrying, containing Nivea Stress Protect deodorant, to keep you dry when you’re stressed.

The girl, realizing it was all just a prank, sits there awash in relief.

The prank video went viral immediately, and has amassed over 7 million views to date.

But it was controversial, as many asked if it went too far. Did it abuse the public?

Was a line crossed just to chase viral success?


Dove “Real Beauty Sketches”

Maybe the biggest viral hit of that year was the Dove “Sketch Artist” video:

In the video, the sketch artist asks women he cannot see to describe themselves, and draws a portrait based on what they say.

Then strangers are asked to describe the same women who they had just met in the lobby, and the sketch artist draws those pictures.

When the two portraits are shown to the original women, they sees the one described by themselves is plain and unattractive, but the one described by strangers is positive and nice looking.

The video made the point that only 4% of the women around the world consider themselves beautiful. And that women are more beautiful than they think.

The Dove Sketch Artist videos were an immediate viral sensation. More than 30 million viewed the video in the first ten days.

The video also stirred up a lot of debate, with many people disliking the implied importance put on looks. But many more felt it made a critical point about self-esteem.

According to reports, the video has overtaken Evian Roller Babies as the most viewed viral video in history.


For these stories and more from Under The Influence, click or tap on the “Listen” tab to hear the full episode.

You can also find us on the CBC Radio app or subscribe to our Podcast.


Under The Influence is recorded in the Terstream Mobile Recording studio – a 1969 Airstream trailer that’s been restored and transformed into a studio on wheels. So host Terry O’Reilly can record the show wherever he goes.

Follow the journey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and search for the hashtag: #Terstream.

(Image Credit: Sidney O’Reilly)

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister

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Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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