The Dangers of Using Trends in Brand Marketing
It was that noted philosopher and trendspotter Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas who once sang in 2009’s “Boom Boom Pow” that she was “so 3008, you so 2000 and late.”
Okay, so maybe Fergie isn’t high up there on your Twitter feed full of social media pundits and media observers. But the lyrics do help illustrate the dangers of being late to the game when it comes to trends. In Fergie’s case, whoever she is singing about can’t match her style and taste; Fergie has one foot in the future, after all, which makes her the coolest of coolhunters.
But when it comes to marketing campaigns that fall a little short of the latest fads, cultural trends and styles, being behind the times can be worse than wearing last season’s fashions. That kind of faux pas can brand a company as hopelessly out of touch with the target audience.
New media and technologies have shortened the turnaround time for getting ads and marketing content in front of a lot of eyeballs in order to take advantage of trends. But that usually has to involve some excellent research on the part of marketers and maybe a little luck as well, to recognize the trend and incorporate it into relevant content.
Fortunately most people involved in the marketing industry are voracious consumers of all kinds of media. And if they’re not, they should be, because trends can be glimpsed in everything from cable news broadcasts and scripted entertainment prime time shows to Twitter trending topics to shared viral content that ranks high on YouTube’s Most Popular list.
Example: Korean rapper Psy is shuffling through the trendspotter ranks with his “Gangnam Style” dance music that started with a widely shared YouTube video. Before you know it, tech and media blogger coverage morphed into the mainstream; the anchors of NBC’s Today show are inviting him on and showing off their own Gangnam moves. Then Saturday Night Live features Psy in a skit.
That’s the usual media lifecycle for whatever is hot and being talked about within selected demographic groups. As usual, research is the key to whether or not a trend can be exploited for marketing purposes. Relevance and appropriateness should then be taken into consideration to make sure that the trend in question won’t make a client look like your eternally divorced and hopelessly out-of-touch Uncle Louie. You know, that guy at the family reunions who finally perfected his “Gangnam Style” moves, but long after the mob has moved on to the next trend phenomenon.