Parody marketing is difficult and attempting it is for the fearless. For video producers the risk is high because if it misses it is awkward in the worst way and can’t be brought to market. Kudos to these mockers of what we love most and wish wasn’t true of bros everywhere!
Here is my list of 5 traits of successful parody marketing videos – read to the end to see how Save The Bros rated on my scorecard.
1) Flipping the Familiar – The Core of Parody Marketing
The Save The Bros video exploits the familiar style of so many save the animals compassion-filled storylines: it first celebrates what the bros offer then plays up the growing danger they face. While all of this is clearly farcical, the video is actually serious about the danger – “scary chemicals and artificial ingredients” – and slipping in the negative positioning of the product the brand is hoping to replace is smart.
The video continues with the possible consequences of “total bro colony collapse,” which is a humorous way to say those other shakes may kill you without opening yourself up to a lawsuit. Then, just like on a late night animal show, the story turns: “At Organic Valley, we have a plan to save the bros…” The music changes too, making it clear this is finally the brand’s real message – even if you almost question whether it’s real because the brand’s name, Organic Valley, sounds like self-parody.
2) Visuals and Music – Supporting the Humor and Message
Just as important as the video’s concept is the execution, including whether the video’s visuals and music achieve the dual goals of enhancing both the humor and the brand’s message. Save The Bros starts strong with some unforgettable imagery of “innovator” bros using a wacky noodle as a beer bong and a “patriot” bro wearing only American flag spandex shorts. When the music turns sad and the bros start fading away, it’s immediately recognizable as a parody of animal extinction videos, and we can’t help but wonder what we can do to save the bros – a question that the brand is happy to answer.
3) Tone – Getting the Perfect Pitch
For the most part they nailed the tone and this is an all-or-nothing category. You can stray from the mocking just a little as long as you do not cross the line into being mean-spirited. It also needs to carve a fake emotional through-line that echoes those of the videos that they are mocking, and they successfully do this to the point where we start to feel sad for the endangered bros. Parodying people while also making them seem likeable is not as easy as it looks, so pulling it off this well is impressive.
4) Surprise – No Surprise, No Viral Video
There’s an element of surprise to all the best parody marketing videos. In Save The Bros the surprises are modest but effective. The reveal that the video is actually for an organic protein drink is somewhat unexpected, and it’s followed by the very earnest spokeswoman asking us to “just tell a bro it has a ton of protein… and he’ll pound the shit out of it.” Unexpected and amusing.
5) Message ROI – Positioning the Brand
You are creating a parody marketing video to make people laugh or smile and remember the brand’s message. So you better make the right point to get your client their money’s worth. Here are the three questions I ask of any parody relating to bang for the marketing video budget:
Does it gently mock without hating and use this to juxtapose the brand’s value proposition?
I think this video does it well – clearly the bros are not portrayed as intelligent, they are on the brink of drinking themselves into extinction but they do seem worth saving unlike the Oklahoma chapter of SAE.
Is the commentary compact and pointed?
I found this video too in love with it’s cleverness, the semi-professional nature of the production, and too long. They hook you early with good material, but the rest of the length is not needed to articulate the key takeaways of the product’s value proposition or increase memorability. The repetition needs to drive greater brand value retention or more humor and doesn’t – it could have been just as effective at 1:30 and not 2:13.
Does it stay on topic?
In general yes but they make a crucial mistake when they break a cardinal rule of parody by letting the perspective they are mocking become their voice. At one point a woman asks that, without bros, “who would make comments about your physique that aren’t appropriate but still appreciated?” This inappropriate defense of the myth that women actually enjoy being harassed is a glaring misstep, and the brand’s image suffers by association. If we had produced this video we would pull it down, cut out that bit, and repost it. You take a hit, but it is worth it. You shouldn’t expose the brand this way or your let your reputation become associated with that statement, especially when so much of the video is well done.
Here is our scorecard for how Save The Bros did in each category (on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the best):
Flipping the Familiar – 5
Visuals and Music – 4
Tone – 4.5
Surprise – 3
Message ROI – 2
So how would you score them?
David Spitzer is CEO of Upper Diamond, a marketing and communication production company. If you want to engage in a conversation about the strategy around a campaign or create some amazing assets (including parody marketing videos) you can find out more about us at www.upperdiamond.com