Why is parody marketing so effective?

By August 8, 2019 August 16th, 2019 Stories

Everybody loves a good parody ad or marketing campaign. Recent viral campaigns include memorable parodies such as Lidl’s revamp of the John Lewis ad featuring Elton John and the recent Paddy Power and Huddersfield Town AFC collaboration. All of these campaigns have gone viral, but why?

Humour goes a long way in marketing and advertising, which is why parody marketing is so popular. It is the particular type of humour, i.e. cynical, and the way the message is conveyed to make the audience feel as if they are “in” on the joke that make it so effective. An example of this can be seen in recent meme culture, which is based on the same premise. Organisations using parody marketing can piggyback off the zeitgeist of the day, ensuring that the marketing campaign will go down well with their target audience because it is already tried and tested.

Parody marketing has much more potential to go viral, with audiences instantly gravitating to something that feels familiar, but also really funny. An idea that has already infiltrated the minds of consumers has more media clout that an idea that is original. The audience is much more likely to participate, engage, and share in the “joke” than they would normally.

However, brands should be careful with parody marketing as it can go one of two ways. Those that aren’t “in” on the joke can feel alienated from the brand and respond negatively. The brand or organisation that you are parodying might also take offense, resulting in backlash or even legal consequences.

The most important issue though is that most popular ideas that can be parodied have been done so to death. Marketeers need to be extremely careful when coming up with the creative for their idea to ensure that it retains enough of the parody format to be recognisable but is still original enough to be engaging and to contain enough of the brand that is supposed to be promoted in the parody campaign.

If successful, parody marketing can be extremely effective. See below some links to our favourite parody campaigns.

Lidl bit funny

HTAFC and Paddy Power Collab

KFC Clean Eating Burger

Plumbworld Pee Cape