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Marketing Parodies: Their Idea, Your Viral Fame

Most marketers can name off at least 10 pieces of viral content – and we’re not talking about Oreo or Ellen. Viral marketing is any strategy that naturally encourages viewers to pass on and share the video or article, creating the exponential growth and traffic online. Many choose this viral video route to spread their story as a native advertising tactic.

Today, you don’t need to have a great idea, you just need to find a way to improve on 1% of that great idea. Lately, this has been in the form of spoofs or parodies of that same video, image, or viral content. For brands, this can result in three instances: getting overshadowed by a parody, gaining publicity and sales with the help of one, and taking matters into your own hands to create your own.

Diet Coke, You’re On

What Happened: An average marketing campaign was overshadowed by a group of parodying ad students.

The Coca-Cola brand may have missed the ball with this marketing campaign. Their new Diet Coke, You’re On campaign isn’t generating the positive buzz as they may have hoped.

Diet Coke was trying to imply that motivated young professionals can be powered by the well-known caffeine drink.

Unfortunately for the Coca-Cola company, this campaign laid out a perfect opportunity for a group of advertising students to take it in their own hands. They made a spoof of the video as if the brand was really meaning “You’re on, Coke.” This caused considerable bad publicity for Coca-Cola as negative headlines started appearing such as, “Is Diet Coke Dabbling in Drug References in Its Ads?” I’m sure they will make sure their next campaign cannot be mistaken for an underlying message.

Kimye vs. Seth Rogen and James Franco

What Happened: Those who might have missed the Vogue cover were able to see the parody and the original. James Franco and Seth Rogen built a repeat gag over Kimye. The benefit is mutual.

vogueparodymarketingAnother perfect opportunity arose for TV stars Seth Rogen and James Franco. A few months ago they created an entire parody music video of Kanye West’s “Bound 3” recreating the awkward scenes and moments of the famous Kimye. When Kim and Kanye were shown on the April cover of Vogue magazine, James Franco took it upon himself to spoof that as well. Franco switched the faces of Kim and Kanye with Rogen and his own, and tweeted a picture stating “Seth! Love you, dog!”

This is a great viral parody because it’s highly shareable among the entertainment fan base. Now, for everything that Kimye does you can almost expect and look out for what the hilarious boys have in store.

NFL Meets McDonalds

What Happened: McDonalds took an already viral concept and applied its branding to it, jumping on a popular bandwagon.

We have all watched the countless bad lip reading YouTube videos of the NFL players. McDonalds had a clever way of incorporating their parody of this into a strategic marketing campaign for their new Mighty Wings.

McDonalds chose the perfect opportunity to make a parody video into a commercial. With something already viral like the bad lip readings, people were bound to have interest in what this new video might include. They kept it similar enough and quite funny, while still advertising the Mighty Wings. They even included the key phrase “party wings” at the end of the commercial. Kudos, McDonalds, you win this viral marketing strategy.

Nissan Gives Back

What Happened: A brand was parodied, but reached out to the creator to show that they’re good sports.

Social and viral marketing worked its magic in this example, where Nissan strikes back on a parody commercial in a positive way. Film maker Luke Aker created his own version of a Nissan commercial to use on Craigslist in hopes of selling his 1996 Maxima.

One of the social team specialists found the spoof online and went to work creating a way to give props to this guy for his creative sales efforts. Nissan ended up reaching out through twitter and purchasing the old “land-yacht” from him, as well as giving $1,000 to the charity of his choice. This was also a perfect example of how the human behind the brand twitter account was a positive influence while giving back to the community.

While some people might get annoyed by the overwhelming amount of spoofs and parodies surfacing online daily, this is a perfect example of which ones to look out for. A parody can be a clever marketing tactic to gather the attention of something which is already viral and use it to benefit your brand or product. As long as it’s mentioned in a positive manor and can be relatable to the humor of the original, this viral marketing strategy could easily work in your favor.

As a favor, please make sure you’re ahead of the game and get your parody out there first to prevent spiraling into an ongoing Gangham Style or Harlem Shake tragedy. What other spoofs have caught your eye in the viral marketing campaign world?

About the author

Chelsea Harrigan