Avril Lavigne’s latest music video “Hello Kitty” caused a bit of a hoopla this week – with some critics even calling it the worst thing to happen to music1. The video, which caused a mass case of secondhand embarrassment to sweep the internet, can serve as a pretty important learning opportunity for brands.
We’ve all had a face-palm moment when a brand puts out a piece of content or launches a marketing campaign that is oblivious to the real world and public perception (example: brands who insist on tweeting about a tragedy, which seems more opportunistic than altruistic).
Today, brands want to pull off massive stunts that will go viral because they see it as the only way to break through noise. However, positive virality is an outcome of an engaged audience who is willing to share and defend your brand2.
This means brands need to strive towards a culture of constant engagement and agility. It’s about truly knowing your audience, crafting a voice they can relate to, and then being consistent. It’s about being the ever-consistent, ever-socially present Taylor Swift and not a desperate Avril Lavigne. A great brand example? Taco Bell3.
Back to Avril Lavigne’s “Hello Kitty.” Putting aside all the various issues the video has (and yes, there are so so many), what the problem really all boils down to is underestimating the audience. Millennials are savvy – they know when they’re being marketed to, and they also know when a brand is being genuine or just adopting a persona to try and be cool.
Know and stick to your voice, even if it means missing out on a new meme or trend. This is vital in a world where marketing doesn’t start and end with a campaign and where brand-to-consumer communication is constant.
We’ll have a follow-up post soon diving deeper into this topic, but until then, join the conversation on Twitter by letting us know which other brands you think are also Taylor Swifts.
1Obviously, they’ve never attended a Chute karaoke party.
2Learn more about brands and virality in this video of Ben Huh’s presentation at the Visual Revolution Summit.
3And yes, Taco Bell, if you’re reading this, I did just equate you to Taylor Swift. It’s a good thing, I promise.
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