8 Marketing Campaigns That Are Low Key Trolling You


Social Media Week

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Sometimes marketing can move us to emotion. Other times it seems to follow us around the internet in the form of display ads for items that we abandoned in a shopping cart ten days ago. And on rare, glorious occasions, brands seize the opportunity to troll us.

Here are a few of our favorites.

1. Suave a.k.a. Evaus

Suave recently tricked a bunch of unsuspecting millennials into thinking they were testing new products from an up-and-coming beauty brand called Evaus. The packaging mimicked the minimalist style common among direct-to-consumer brands like Glossier, which are increasingly winning over image-conscious shoppers.

At the end of the stunt, it’s revealed that the subjects are using the same stuff their grandma used to buy. See also: Bob Evans Beauty. H/T Refinery29

2. Spotify

To celebrate the end of 2016, Spotify anonymized user listening data and somewhat-subtly blew up people’s spots via OOH advertising scattered all over New York. As if the person who listened to “Sorry” by Justin Bieber 42 times on Valentine’s Day didn’t have it bad enough. #Savage

3. Father John Misty

It’s no secret that Father John Misty is rather eccentric. In 2016, the former Fleet Foxes drummer created his own apparel line, “Life of Padre,” as a parody to the “Life of Pablo” line, which was sold exclusively at Kanye West’s tour of the same name. FJM also once recorded a cover of Ryan Adams’ cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” in the style of Velvet Underground. So there’s that.

4. Mailbox

Proving that people will wait in line for anything so long as a line has already formed, Mailbox garnered massive buzz by creating a virtual waiting list that drew more than a quarter million pre-launch signups. The startup dragged their heels to formally launch, and when they finally did, they were bought by Dropbox just 37 days later. “You’re welcome, Mailbox.” – Signed, Everyone. H/T BusinessInsider

5. Gordon Ramsay

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay doesn’t mince words on “Kitchen Nightmares,” so it’s no surprise he’s just as brutal on Twitter. Sometime in 2017, people began snapping photos of their meals and asking Ramsay for his take on their dishes. And he goes IN. Your move, Jon Taffer. H/T Buzzfeed

6. Wendy’s

Meanwhile, it looks like Wendy’s is finally coming into its own on Twitter. Over the past several months the brand has gotten noticeably sassier, clapping back at haters, competitors and anyone else who dares to cross them in 140 characters or less. The latest update: Wendy’s is officially at war with Hardee’s. We’ll let you read the thread for yourself, but #spoileralert, it ends with Wendy’s getting blocked. H/T Huffington Post

7. Chubbies

Here’s a brand that has been around for a few years, and I honestly can’t tell if they’re joking or not. Chubbies are moderately-priced short-shorts for men that pair nicely with a country club membership and an affinity for Sperrys. Just like “Eastbound & Down,” the entire thing is very “America laughs at itself” but it’s unclear who’s doing the laughing. Regardless, these things are selling like hotcakes, so I guess it’s working. H/T The Hustle

8. Walmart

Back in the early days of Facebook, when you could still hijack a brand’s campaign without having corp comms come in and shut it down, Walmart ran a promotion asking people to vote for the chance to win a Pitbull concert at their local Walmart.

As it turns out, the joke was on Mr. 305, as one clever prankster created a movement to send Pitbull to Kodiak, Alaska. Being the good sport he is, Pitbull fulfilled his duties and even snapped some photos with the locals. Dale! H/T New York Daily News

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Katie Perry

Contributor, Social Media Week

Katie Perry is a marketing & content strategist and contributor to SMW News, a leading news platform covering startups, tech, brands and the future of work. You can follow Katie on Twitter at @katieeperry.



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