Laugh and the world laughs with you; parody someone else and you’ll be a viral hit. Our collective thirst for parody has never been quenched so throughly as it is online with viral marketing and video content. Today’s online parody ritual works something like this: Every day, a new video that pokes fun at a popular brand or celebrity pops up in our newsfeeds. We laugh and we pass it on. But for the most astute example of how parody can help a brand, we need to look to the place where sunny days are sweeping the clouds away.
Our interest in parody was peaked last week when we received about a million links to Sesame Street’s Glee parody pop up on Facebook. Pitch-perfect, bitingly funny and naturally educational (it’s Sesame Street, after all), the parody of the hit musical show on Fox struck a chord with Glee fans. After merely one day online, the clip garnered over 20k in views. Entertainment Weekly, TV Guide and others ran the parody and even stars of the show were tweeting about it.
What makes this sweet parody a smash hit is its lack of mean spirit. Instead of getting snarky, the production is filled with genuinely smart observational humor. Sesame Street has darn near reinvented itself after 40 years thanks to viral smashes like this one. As a creative TV brand, things were bleak on Sesame Street about five years ago. But thanks to a controversial appearance in the ‘hood by Katy Perry, all Sesame Street online videos have now become must-see viral viewing.
What we non-puppet-owning marketers can learn from our homies on Sesame Street is that a good-natured parody can not only bring in tons of viewers but can actually make people laugh. Recently, non-profits have gotten mega-notices for their PSAs that feature Star Wars and James Bond parodies. Clearly there’s no shortage of material in the pop culture universe to make fun of. So, readers, what makes you laugh? And how can you translate that into viral marketing success?