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In Pranks And Fake Signs, 'Obvious Plant' Sows Mischief At Retailers


How's this for truth in advertising? At a Target store in Los Angeles, the bulletin board had a Black Friday sale preview. Discounts included gifts they'll only use once, like a telescope and an exercise ball. And the ads got weirder from there - OK, these flyers were not from the Target marketing department. They are the work of Jeff Wysaski. He runs a blog called Obvious Plant. BuzzFeed once called him one of the funniest people on these here internets tubes. And he is here on these here radio waves. Hey, Jeff.

JEFF WYSASKI: Hi. How's it going?

SHAPIRO: Good. Why fake Black Friday ads?

WYSASKI: Well, you know, I've been doing this project where I put fake things up in public for people to discover. And I had noticed circulars in stores for a while. I wanted to do something with it, and Black Friday seemed like the absolute perfect time to goof on it.

SHAPIRO: And these go from the insightfully funny, like gifts you'll only use once, to the absolutely absurd, like gifts for centaurs, including a standup desk and an archery set. What was one or two of your favorites?

WYSASKI: I liked the door-buster, which is a tent with an angry possum in it.

SHAPIRO: Fifty percent off while quantities last.

WYSASKI: That's right, while quantities last, which will probably be a while. And I like the racist printer. It's just an absurd idea.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter) You also have here an invitation to Kyle's bar mitzvah - $59.99 regular price and $100 cash gift.


SHAPIRO: How did you get these Black Friday ads up without being noticed by Target's security?

WYSASKI: You know, people ask me about that all the time. I've never once been stopped or asked, you know, to not do what I'm doing. I actually put these up right in front of two Target employees. They were in direct line of sight of where I was.

SHAPIRO: And just oblivious, or were they, like, that's funny, or were they, like, oh, I'm glad you're putting up the Black Friday fliers?

WYSASKI: Just oblivious - you know, people just - both customers and employees are just in their own world, like the one guy was untangling a bunch of walkie-talkie cords. So he was just looking down the whole time. But if he'd looked up, he would've seen me putting up the flyers.

SHAPIRO: You've been doing this kind of stuff a lot, not just Black Friday ads in Target. But you have dating advice in a florist shop or supermarkets or bookstores. How did you get into this particular brand of comedy?

WYSASKI: Well, I've been doing Internet humor in one way or another for several years now. I used to draw a lot of web comics. And every once in a while, I would do, like, a street flyer, lost or found and post it on a street pole.

SHAPIRO: Like you had one lost-and-found flyer that you put on a street pole for a giant spider wearing a saddle?

WYSASKI: For sale, yeah, a giant spider with a saddle. I brought this home instead of a Prius, and my wife was not happy about it. So I just started having a lot of ideas beyond, like, a regular street flyer that I could put up in public.

SHAPIRO: Well, what are you going to buy this Black Friday?

WYSASKI: I'm not going to buy anything on Black Friday, like I always do. I tend to avoid Black Friday and then do all my shopping online because I don't like the crowds.

SHAPIRO: Not even of C-3P-'fro - like, a statue of C-3PO from "Star Wars" wearing an afro wig?

WYSASKI: If that was an in-store only purchase, I would go into the store to buy that for sure.

SHAPIRO: Well, Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for talking with us.

WYSASKI: Yeah, thanks so much for calling.

SHAPIRO: That was Jeff Wysaski, who is behind the blog Obvious Plant. By the way, we asked Target about Jeff's fake ads. A spokesperson wrote to us and confirmed the store is not, in fact, selling tickets to Kyle's bar mitzvah, quote, "we were surprised by it, too, and appreciate the creativity." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.