In the 400 BC Hindu epic Mahabharata, a villainous character named Shakuni is able to telekinetically control the roll of dice and is thereby able to cheat his way through games of chance. Often credited as the first "telekinetic" on record, Shakuni and his tale would kick off a tradition that would see the gift of telekinesis travel from culture to culture and from era to era, before eventually reaching the mind of Stephen King and spawning the story of Carrie, which is arguably the most famous modern story focused on the ability of people to control inanimate objects with their minds.
But the tradition didn't end in 1974 with King's novel. It has continued pique the curiosity of people, and was recently picked up by the creatives at Colenso BBDO and deployed in a new online campaign for V Energy. Over the course of three clips, the campaign shows people lifting various objects with their minds, before the tagline 'zero percent sugar, 100 percent mental' is introduced.
The campaign started off with a series of teasers that showed some Kiwi blokes dabbling in the art of telekinesis.
When you’re so busy making levitation gains, that you forget to tie everything down… #VZero #VMentalPosted by V Energy NZ on Thursday, 8 October 2015
You’d be surprised at what you can do if you put your mind to it. What would you do? #VZeroPosted by V Energy NZ on Tuesday, 6 October 2015
Mental things happen when you’re experimenting with energy! #VZeroPosted by V Energy NZ on Wednesday, 7 October 2015
From the outset, there were hints that V Energy (the brand that brought us the V Motion Project) was going to deliver another experiential marvel. The references to telekinesis and the chords sticking out the can seemed to allude to technology that enables users to move items with their minds. And the energy drink company lived up to promise of the teaser campaign by hosting an experiential campaign that gave Kiwis an opportunity to levitate a ship container.
In case you missed it, we just used mental energy to levitate a 20ft. shipping container. #VZeroPosted by V Energy NZ on Tuesday, 20 October 2015
Yep, we actually just levitated a 20ft. shipping container using the power of our minds. And now it’s your turn.Find out how strong your mind is at V Zero - Battle of the Minds. Queens Wharf, this Friday and Saturday. #VZero #VMentalPosted by V Energy NZ on Wednesday, 14 October 2015
To give the campaign further reach, several Kiwi celebrities headed down to Shed 10 to try out the stunt.
Vaughan just wasted Fletch and set a new record for the longest time levitating the shipping container in the air! #VZero #VMentalPosted by V Energy NZ on Thursday, 15 October 2015
Mikey Havoc just defeated Jeremy Wells at Battle of the Minds! #VZero #VMentalPosted by V Energy NZ on Thursday, 15 October 2015
According to a Colenso release, V Energy used a state of the art headset to measure each competitor’s brain activity. A series of algorithms then pinpointed the brain’s focus values, and translated those into a magnetic field under the container. As a competitor’s focus got stronger, the magnets lifted their side of the container higher.
“V Energy always likes to push the boundaries and challenge people’s perception of what’s possible,” says John Alexander, Senior Brand Manager at V Energy.
V Energy's often off-beat marketing has seen the brand become incredibly popular among millennial consumers, some of which go as far tattooing the brand's insignia onto their bodies. V Energy also holds the privileged position of being the market leader in the energy drink category in New Zealand, despite the fact that Red Bull dominates most other international markets.
A shorter version of this story was originally published in the PopPress section when the teaser campaign was first released on 9 October.