Spoof marketing

by | Aug 8, 2012 | Marketing & Selling

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This cool advertisement for an annual scientific meeting arrived in the mail today. And I thought to myself, if the American Society for Cell Biology can do it, so can you!

What am I talking about? Well, let me tell ya!

In this example, the Society is playing off the recent hit movie that is due out in DVD any day now, The Hunger Games. They’ve changed it to suit their theme, which is cellular suicide, otherwise known as apoptosis, a form programmed cell death used in nature to control cell population and destroy cells that threaten the organism’s survival. So, “The Hunger Games” becomes “The Autophagy Games” — “auto” meaning self and “phagy” meaning eating or devouring.

The Society is using a long-time, tried and true marketing tactic … taking something popular and familiar and modifying it to fit their own needs.

Here’s how you can do it to:

1) Keep up with popular trends that your target market would be aware of. These can be big, mass trends like popular movies, or more niche trends like the recent burst of all things Pinterest in the social media/online marketing space.

2) Look for ways that you can mimic trending memes in your marketing. To use “The Hunger Games” as an example, you’ll see that the title has to do with eating and so does apoptosis (if you stretch a little). If what you do can be talked about in “eating” terms, you could use that movie, as well. Maybe “The Satiated Games” or “The Avoiding Triple Chocolate Cake Games” … OK that last one wasn’t so elegant. But I hope you get the picture.

This is a great way to express your creativity in your marketing. I’ve done some spoof marketing myself. You can check out my parody videos in this past post.

The key to this type of marketing is being close enough to the original to trigger recognition in your market, without being so much alike that you run into copyright issues. Of course, you can always the original copyright holder for permission if you think you’ve gone too close to their brand. That said, parody does have some copyright protections … I recommend you read up on that more to protect yourself.


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