Jumping On The Trend-wagon

The digital space is fast-paced and saturated. Brands and businesses are on a constant battle, to find ways to stand out, amidst the sea of similarities. That said, when a trend like the “Bottle Cap Challenge” comes along, it almost always seems like you have hit the jackpot. Relevance? Check. Talk of the town? Check. Interest of audience? CHECK!

With what seemed like a sure-win opportunity, brands are more than eager to apply their witty copywriting and creative ideas to jump on board, because hey, who does not love a good ol’ parody? But just because everyone is doing it, should a brand follow along? How do you tell if it’s a good trend to get behind and what should you consider before jumping onto a trend? 

Just recently, an ad shook Singapore with its supposed insensitive feature of racial misrepresentation. And like a moth to a flame, two influencers came up with a video comeback, almost immediately, to highlight the issue…with, unfortunately, more insensitivity. Although meant as a satire, what was initially supposed to address an issue, backfired and got the pair into trouble with the authorities

Humour and creativity are subjective, but when it has the potential to stir controversy, it is important to understand the audience on the receiving end and the environment. 

The best kind of comeback, in our opinion, is one that is subtle but has the ability to hit you with the punches. What you need to sell is the idea. The joke that needs you to elaborate on why it is funny, is not funny.

A great example is the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s (SCDF) comeback to the Gojek incident that happened earlier this year between a driver and his passenger. A misunderstanding had caused the passenger to question the driver of his intentions and whether it was due to the fact that she was of a different race. This was caught on video that went viral. SCDF was smooth with the execution of their campaign, inspired by the said incident.

Nowhere was there a mention of race, but the copywriting was so on-point that anyone who would have seen the video, knew exactly what they were referring to. Mothership analysed that the image used was an attempt to recreate the look of the scenario. 

The picture shows a bespectacled man, passively looking forward as a lady is behind talking to someone, perhaps an emergency call, perhaps a fake Go-Jek representative.

And to top that, the message of their campaign was successfully received because of how apt it was. 

Another brand that keeps on giving Singaporeans a chuckle amidst a tense situation is IKEA. Back in 2016, Josephine Teo, then Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport, made a comment about young citizens not needing much space to have more babies. This instantly sparked a debate among internet users, citing it was uncalled for and the lack of understanding from a figure of authority. 

According to Marketing Interactive, in less than 48 hours, IKEA had swiftly taken the issue at hand to produce a witty gif entitled, ‘The Very Small Space’ collection, complete with vibrating furniture. It got over 3,000 shares, with comments citing the brilliance of it. 

There was not a mention of the controversial topic and it was done so subtly that a person who is unaware of the background story would deem it as just another collection targeted for homeowners with small spaces. 

IKEA does it so well that they actually have Singaporeans waiting in anticipation for their ‘clapback’ towards any situation that has gone viral.

This ad was inspired by a man who was convicted for dismantling and stealing a bench at the bus stop. It got Singaporeans talking when Land Transport Authority released that the bench costs an estimated $1,500. 

Parodies are great because of its lightheartedness, and a successful one that rides on the trend has the ability to put a brand on the map and even increase sales. A recent study shares that a higher percentage of customers tend to get influenced through online platforms like Youtube for products of interest, even if they do not end up purchasing online. 

With a reputation gained from a successful campaign coming off a trend, it also reflects well on the business – reliable for being timely, and also witty and smart for being able to come up with something as engaging in a new york minute. As humans, we like to be associated with things or brands that are a reflection of us, or one that we aspire to be. 

That said, to ride on a viral trend is a tricky move as it requires quick thinking and immediate execution in order to be timely. This is not to say that thinking on your feet does not guarantee a successful campaign, as demonstrated by both SCDF and IKEA. But a brand has to ensure that it covers all the bases in terms of its audience at the receiving end and how the message comes across. It helps to be at least a little sensitive to the audience when required since they too have a voice.

So the next time a trend triggers the opportunist in you, just remember to not ride on it blindly – be witty, not cheesy. Trend comes and goes, but reputation remains. 

Need help with your brand’s reputation in the digital space? Drop us an email at talktous@wearebeknown with your business woes, and we’ll turn that frown upside down! Alternatively, sign up for our newsletter on our homepage for the latest news and tips on staying on top of your digital game.

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