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persuasion notebook

Tim Hortons has rolled out a prank ad campaign for its new Creamy Chocolate Chill.Hand-out

It has been mocked, but prank advertising is alive and well.

Whether it's a fake apocalypse advertising high-resolution TVs, or a blind date with a stunt driver designed to promote cars, advertisers have been using videos of elaborate pranks to get people's attention in a cluttered digital environment.

The latest example is a new ad from Tim Hortons, which uses levitation to promote the transcendent experience of sipping on a frozen chocolate drink.

The coffee chain has added the chocolate drink to its lineup just in time for summer, and hired Canadian magician Darcy Oake to help promote it. In the video, an actress takes a sip of the drink, and in front of a full restaurant, appears to float off her chair. Her boyfriend (also an actor) gets everyone's attention with his frightened reaction.

Mr. Oake, son of Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster Scott Oake, gained recognition last year as a finalist on hit television show Britain's Got Talent.

As a result of his stint on the show, Mr. Oake signed on with L.A.-based talent agents Creative Artists Agency.

Ad agency JWT Canada hired Mr. Oake to help with the prank, but when it comes to how they pulled it off, they're keeping their magician's secrets.