UPDATE: DHL Did NOT Use Color-Changing Packages To Trick UPS Into Delivering Giant DHL Ads

UPDATE: We were correct to doubt the authenticity of this “prank.” A rep for DHL tells Consumerist that while the shipping company is aware of the video, DHL did not actually pull the prank or have anything to do with the actual production of the clip that has already been viewed more than 200,000 times on YouTube.

“This was not something that was initiated by DHL,” a rep for the company tells Consumerist in an e-mail. “The video was created by an external agency for their own internal competition. We were aware in advance of the intention to use it for this purpose. We were not aware of any plans to share it externally.”

—-Original Post —

Picture a McDonald’s employee seen in line at Taco Bell, or a Coca-Cola delivery driver quenching her thirst with a Mountain Dew. Now imagine those people were somehow tricked into those compromising situations. That’s the idea behind a viral video that may or may not have been produced by the package-shipping folks at DHL.

It’s a simple idea, really. Print a DHL ad on temperature-sensitive foil and wrap it around some very large boxes. Then chill those boxes down so the DHL ad vanishes and call up the competition to have those boxes delivered.

The above video shows drivers for DHL competitors like UPS and TNT trying to deliver huge yellow parcels that now clearly read “DHL is faster.”

Thing is, we’re not 100% sold on this video being authentic.

First, it’s currently not on the DHL YouTube channel, nor could we find any mention of the campaign in a DHL press release or in any of its official social media channels.

Second, the boxes don’t appear to have any shipping labels whatsoever on them. It’s possible that DHL affixed the shipping labels in just such a way as to not be visible on camera, but what about the labels that shipping companies tend to slap on the sides of boxes as they go through the routing process?

There is also the issue of the weight of the boxes. The video claims that the shipments were sent to addresses that are difficult to reach with such sizable parcels and shows delivery drivers struggling to cart these boxes up steps. But other shots show drivers easily carrying the boxes without the use of a cart. Why would a driver try to drag a box up steps on a dolly if it could be carried up by hand?

Then there is the incredibly convenient camera placement that just happens to have crystal clear footage at the precise time and location that the boxes are being delivered, including a hidden camera in an elevator and one shot where a box is coming off a truck at the exact moment that the black packaging fades to reveal the DHL message.

Finally, the deliveries in the video all appear to be occurring in DHL’s home country of Germany, but “DHL is faster” is printed in English on all the packages. Granted, many people in Germany speak English, but it strikes us as odd that DHL would choose to perform such carefully orchestrated and public stunt in a language that was a secondary or tertiary tongue for the people who witnessed it.

We’re not saying this can’t be the real deal — and we certainly hope it is, because it’s a pretty amusing prank. We’re just saying we have reason for doubt.

We’ve reached out to DHL’s media team to see if anyone there will confirm whether this is a legitimate prank or if it was staged. If we get any answer, we’ll let you know.

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  1. SingleMaltGeek says:

    In order to get footage of a few of these events, for each one they probably would have had at least 20 or 30 where the message was upside-down, or had those routing stickers stuck on it, or the message appeared too early or late instead of at the time of delivery.

    Can anyone think of a way that they could have rigged the text to appear exactly as intended most or all of the time without completely staging it?