Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Lessons behind 'Twerking'

For those of you that do not know the meaning behind the word 'twerk,' pay close attention to the Oxford Dictionary definition below before reading the read of this blog post.

verb [no object] informal
dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance:
just wait till they catch their daughters twerking to this song
twerk it girl, work it girl

This dance move has recently been all over social media between Miley Cyrus' Madonna/Brittney Spears statement-making performance at the VMA's and the YouTube video starring the girl attempting to flaunt her 'twerking' skills.  The YouTube video titled “Worst Twerk Fail EVER – Girl Catches Fire!” went live on September 3rd and only a week later this 37 second video had over 9 million views!  If you haven't seen this video yet (or you just want to watch it again) take a look here:

Besides the viral attention that this video received on YouTube, other news sources also picked up on it, from Access Hollywood to CNN.  However that isn't even the really interesting part – it turned out to all be a hoax!  Yes – Jimmy Kimmel tricked over 9 million people! Kimmel & friends wanted to see how much pickup this video would get, so they posted it to YouTube using a generic name (with no connection to Jimmy Kimmel) and sat back and watched as millions watched their creation. 

While Kimmel is known for his pranks (especially on kids around Halloween and Christmas), this time his prank had the potential to teach us a couple of things relevant to both life and marketing. 

Firstly, even though this video was a ruse - be aware of the dangers behind tricky twerking, especially if you are near hazardous objects such as fire, stairs, sharp objects etc.

Secondly, right now things are hyper digital and hyper social in our world.  That combination can result in a simple YouTube video getting seen by the equivalent of all of the people that live in New York City. But also looking into the intent behind the timing of this video getting put up; Kimmel says that he wanted to counteract all of the social media attention that Miley Cyrus’ performance was receiving. 

Leveraging social media for a greater cause (in this case ridding the world of Miley’s twerking) is a phenomenon that has been seen in other more serious arenas, such as Egypt and Iran. In these countries where the political situations have been intense over the past few years, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have been used to organize uprisings and communicate the direness of their climates to the rest of the world. 

So if Jimmy Kimmel, Egypt and Iran are using this type of tactic for their causes, I wonder how pharma marketers can use this tactic for the different diseases and medical conditions they support that often require a lot of awareness, attention and education.  

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