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Pop Culture Marketing Genius

Pop Culture Marketing Genius

Kelly Kenny Freshlime

by Kelly Kenny, Freshlime Social Media Strategist

I’ve always been told that admitting your addiction is the first step towards recovery. So, today I, Kelly Kenny, would like to publicly declare that I have a pop culture problem.

My affliction outwardly forces me to quote movies constantly, ask all of my coworkers if they watched “Game of Thrones” last night, or if they’ve heard that Beyoncé released an entire album in the dead of the night. The less publicly exposed side effects of my pop culture addiction manifest themselves through the uncontrollably clicking on cat videos, hours of buzzfeed-ing and very secretly keeping up with the Kardashians.

However embarrassing my predilections for celebrity gossip or viral videos can become, I am not alone. I am one of billions out there who can’t help but click and share or take part in online conversations about pop culture. Brands that are technologically savvy enough are leveraging this to their advantage. Some call it “newsjacking” but when done right, I call it pop-culture marketing “genius.”

Let’s start with some examples.


Last December. millions tuned in to NBC to watch Carrie Underwood take on the role of Maria Von Trapp in a live version of “The Sound of Music”. MILLIONS tuned in. Although Underwood was praised for delivering a strong performance under pressure, the big winner of the night was not the country superstar, but DiGiorno Pizza who live tweeted the entire broadcast. With tweets like “#TheSoundofMusicLive I can’t believe pizza isn’t one of her favorite things – smh,” and “The kitchen is alive with the smell of fresh baked pizza.” The brand gained thousands of followers and was trending that night all because they saw an opportunity to interact and entertain their audience in real-time.

Cats are so hot right now, so when Friskies teamed up with Buzzfeed to create the “Dear Kitten” video series, social media users reacted in a big way. The videos went viral, garnering 10 million views in record time and the hashtag #DearKitten became popular without Friskies even seeding it.

Brands like Oreo, Pringles and even Clorox have also leveraged pop culture within their social media marketing efforts using the premier of “Game of Thrones”, as well as the 2014 FIFA World Cup to personally connect with their audiences.

Although I thoroughly enjoy pop-culture marketing that is smart, witty and entertaining, there are some companies that have gotten into trouble.

This summer FAFSA tweeted a popular meme from the movie Bridesmaids that dropped the Federal organization into some seriously hot water. The tweet prompted followers not to forget to register for financial aide and was accompanied by a popular picture and quote from the film which read “Help Me, I’m Poor.” Needless to say, the public did not take kindly to being the butt of a federal organization’s joke and FAFSA was forced to issue a public apology.

Pop culture marketing at its best is relevant to the brand, light-hearted and entertaining. Customers develop authentic relationships with friends the same way they do with brands on social media; based on shared interests. So don’t be afraid to take part in existing conversations about pop culture happenings as long as you find a unique way to make them relevant to your brand. #DiGiorNOSHEDIDNT

About the author / Kelly Kenny

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