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Using Pop Culture In Ads: Red And Green Flags - PivotTree
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Using Pop Culture In Ads: Red And Green Flags

Using Pop Culture In Ads: Red And Green Flags

Using Pop Culture in Ads: Red and Green Flags 

It is easier to recall a jingle or an advertisement if a popular singer sang it. With the proliferation of pop culture used in advertisements today, many brands have managed to build brand awareness and drive conversions leveraging on this tactic. Celebrity endorsements, meme-inspired ads, popularised content from TV shows, fashion, and music, companies are exploring them all in their marketing strategy. Brands are finding ways to creatively integrate pop culture with promotional material in their digital ads. While it can be tempting to leverage pop culture for marketing, it is important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of using them. For an effective marketing campaign, consider the red and green flags of pop culture before you start planning. 

Green Flags

  1. Building an Emotional Connection with Audiences 

Leveraging pop culture in ads can be used to create relevance and relatability with the brand. The effectiveness of an ad depends on the virality of its content and its ability to connect with the masses. Through social listening, trending topics and themes can be identified and utilised for promotional content. IKEA, for example, recreated living rooms from various television shows that audiences were familiar with. By establishing an emotional connection between the brand and beloved television shows and tapping on the nostalgia of viewers, a positive association was created. IKEA was able to reach a larger group of audiences, increasing brand visibility and reach. 

Besides creating brand awareness, using pop culture may also result in increased brand loyalty. An association with popular culture can help to resonate better with certain audience types, their interests and hobbies. Consumers are more drawn to brands that can become an extension of their personality. The chances of them staying with a brand that speaks to them becomes higher. For example, the marketing for Adidas Superstar sneakers was heavily associated with hip hop culture, a lifestyle trend well-known today. With an added ‘coolness’ to sports, Adidas changed their brand image, reshaped consumer behaviour, and created a loyal following. 

  1. Increasing Likelihood of Traffic and Conversions 

In conjunction with Taylor Swift’s Red album, Starbucks has launched a collaborative venture with the singer to market the singer’s favourite Starbucks drink on its social media channels. Additionally, a special eGift card with the lyrics of her latest single has been launched during the holiday season. Pop cultural references like these are great at capturing the attention of a particular market of consumers, increases the likelihood of more traffic on the brand’s platforms, and helps convert online visitors to paying customers through the emotional connection the strategy has established. Consumers are also diversified from regular Starbucks drinkers, to Taylor Swift fans, to friends and loved ones who would buy the drink and eGift card as presents for these fans during seasons of gifting. 

  1. Creating Engagement 

Understanding buzzwords and memes can help in creating marketing material that is entertaining yet drives a clear and concise message about the brand. In social media marketing campaigns, buzzwords can be utilised in ads, which help if companies want to create conversations about a trending topic or theme. Following meme culture also increases the likelihood of responses (likes, shares, comments, reactions) because content is so relatable. For example, Spotify produced meme-inspired ads emulating consumer behaviour. Through these methods, consumers are likely to be more engaged with the brand as consumer habits are emulated. Brands can establish a friendly tone with them to build relationships. 

  1. Soft Selling 

Through the movie ‘Parasite’, a popular recipe, Jjapaguri was shown in the film and gained popularity worldwide. Nongshim, a manufacturer of instant noodles, leveraged on the popularity to create social media content that would educate interested viewers on how to make the dish. With such social media content, brands can make their products more enticing through soft selling techniques without sounding too pushy or assertive. 

Red Flags

  1. Cultural Sensitivity 

Being creative comes with its limitations. When considering including pop culture in ads, it is important to understand the implications involved. It is not enough to simply join the hype when a trendy topic emerges. The social context that the ad will be placed in and the social issues happening during the time matter. Pop culture can entertain and engage but it can also lead to the undermining of cultural issues if the ad utilising it is interpreted unfavourably. Make sure that content produced does not make room for controversial debate. Stay updated on the news and socio-political issues happening around the time of your campaign launch. 

  1. Lifespan of Ads are Limited 

The virality of digital content comes as quickly as it goes. If a popular show or a series comes to an end, people will gradually grow less interested in old content related to them as ideas to creatively integrate them with ads will eventually be exhausted. Taste and preferences, lifestyles, and consumer behaviour are always changing. Brands need to be vigilant in looking out for the next viral video and identifying consumer trends. This way, marketing campaigns will stay relevant in a fast-paced and dynamic world. 

While using pop culture in ads can be beneficial in capturing the attention of a target audience, it might not be applicable for every brand. Consider if including pop culture affects the credibility and authenticity of your brand. If the industry and brand image of your company is one that is more on the strictly corporate side, leveraging meme culture may not resonate well with your target audience. Ultimately, it boils down to the kind of value that you want to create for your customers, what you think best resonates with them, and the marketing objective that you would like to achieve in your ad campaigns.  

Social media and content marketing are ways that you can pique the interest of your readers and attract them to your brand. When utilised effectively, they can help to drive brand awareness, traffic, conversions, and engagement. If you are interested in our digital marketing services, check them out here. 



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