Digital studio Defy Media is hoping to do well by doing good.
New York-based Defy is launching a wider "pranks for good" initiative, inviting users to nominate someone to be featured in an uplifting prank video to debut in mid-November, based on the Break.com "Prank It FWD" series that has generated more than 30 million views to date.
Defy's announcement of the new campaign comes after the viral success in recent weeks of the "Ice Bucket Challenge," in which people record videos of themselves pouring freezing-cold water over their heads and challenging others to donate money to the ALS Association, which is dedicated to fighting Lou Gehrig's disease.
The #IceBucketChallenge has resulted in millions of video views, featuring ordinary people as well as such notables as Jimmy Fallon, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft's Bill Gates, LeBron James and Taylor Swift, and resulted in donations of $13.3 million to the ALS Foundation since July 29, the New York Times reported.
With "Prank It FWD," starting Monday, viewers can submit their stories to be considered for the next campaign at Break.com. The campaign also will include original videos from Break.com, YouTube stars Smosh, Screen Junkies and prankster Greg Benson, along with other talent to be announced.
"The outpouring of support and positivity we saw from our first iteration of 'Prank It FWD' was inspiring, and it was clear that we needed to move the effort forward and go bigger," said Barry Blumberg, EVP of Defy Media.
In the most-viewed "Prank if FWD" video from the first season, "Best Shift Ever," unsuspecting waitress Chelsea Roff received a $1,000 tip, a trip to Hawaii, a new car and a surprise visit from her mentor. The video has been viewed more than 8.1 million times so far, and according to Defy Media has changed Roff's life to let her work full time at her non-profit group to help people recover from disordered eating and negative body image through yoga. According to Defy, the series has inspired other "pranks for good," a phenomenon the renewed campaign is aiming to capitalize on.
Defy Media was formed last year by the merger of Alloy Digital and Break Media. In June, Viacom acquired a stake in Defy and also entered into marketing and content syndication agreements to develop and distribute entertainment to their respective audiences.