'How to Hack Video Screens on Times Square' Is Not What It Seems (VIDEO)

Lindsay Mannering

limitlessHave you seen this viral YouTube video yet? Check your email or your friends' news feeds -- it's probably there. It's called "how to hack video screens on times square" and has gotten nearly 1.5 million views. The title enough is enticing, but the story behind the two minute short is even more interesting.

Unfortunately someone told me the secret behind the video before I got to see it, so I feel like I was robbed of the experience. After the jump, watch the clip, then let's discuss.

Pretty cool, right? How did he do it, and 'was he arrested' would've been my first two questions. The answers are 'he didn't' and 'no, in fact, he was paid to do so.'

The dude's an actor and the technology, while awe-inspiring, is totally fake. This video was intended to get us talking, and writing, and it certainly succeeded. But what's it all about? Well, watch the last ten seconds of the video again and see if you can't figure it out.

Did you see it? The blip of a trailer for the Bradley Cooper movie that came out in theaters yesterday, Limitless, goes in and out on the big Times Square screen just a few times before it's gone. So yup, this whole thing is an ad for the movie.

I like the concept, a lot. I was even enthusiastic about the idea a few summers ago when the Montauk Monster washed ashore on Long Island and no one could figure out what it was -- I was of the school of thought that assumed it was part of a viral ad campaign for the latest disaster movie yet to be released. Ads like these get me excited. The creativity alone is enough to get me jazzed, but the execution and delivery even more so-- it got 1.5M views!

I hope we start seeing more hidden ads because a) commercials are so boring and we all fast forward through them anyway with our DVRs and b) they're fun to try and decode, fun to talk about, and fun to share. I'd much rather learn about a new product this way than through stagnant Internet pop-ups or worse, radio commercials.

Limitless was already on my must-see list (I've loved Bradley since his days as a host on the travel education show, Globe Trekker) but I will admit that this ad makes me even more excited to hand over my $13 for a sticky seat. If they were able to produce such a thought-provoking and fascinating 120 second YouTube short, then I can't wait to see what they did with 120 minutes.

What do you think of the ad, and would you like to see more ads like this in the future?

Photo via YouTube

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