The campaign was designed by the firm Saatchi & Saatchi to target men under 35 who "hate advertising". Instead, they could be convinced to buy a car by setting their friends up to believe a complete stranger was terrorizing their way across the country, intending to find them at home.
In a lawsuit filed Sept. 28 in Los Angeles Superior Court, Amber Duick claims she had difficulty eating, sleeping and going to work during March and April of last year after she received e-mails for five days from a fictitious man called Sebastian Bowler, from England, who said he was on the run from the law, knew her and where she lived, and was coming to her home to hide from the police. There was even a fictitious MySpace page reportedly created for Bowler.
Although Bowler did not have Duick's current address, he sent her links to his My Space
page as well as links to video clips of him causing trouble all over the country on his way to her former house in Los Angeles, according to the lawsuit.
The alleged harassment lasted five days, according to the suit, and frightened Duick so much she contacted neighbors, friends and family, and the occupant of her former home about the man she feared was coming to visit. Her attorney declined to comment as to whether or not she called the police. She even made her longtime boyfriend sleep with a club and mace next to the bed for protection.
"As a result of the e-mails, [Duick] found it extremely difficult to work, and her job performance suffered," the complaint said. "[She] was unable to perform her job duties at standard levels." It turns out the prank was actually part of a marketing effort executed by the Los Angeles division of global marketing agency Saatchi & Saatchi, which created the campaign to promote the Toyota Matrix, a new model launched in 2008.
The prank campaign, Saatchi creative director Alex Flint told the magazine, should gain the appreciation from "even the most cynical, anti-advertising guy."If I were a man under the age of 35, I would be pretty ticked that the advertising industry assumes that I and all of my peers enjoy laughing at people being stalked.