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Top 3 Pop Culture Trends Marketers Capitalized on in 2014

Posted by Casey Lewis on Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Topics: General Business

2014-pop-culture-trendsAs marketers, it can be difficult to judge how often you should promote your business and products/services. If you don’t do enough of it, you aren’t doing your job well; but if you do too much, you can annoy potential customers or negatively impact your image. It’s a very fine line to walk.

One way to get around this conundrum is to be opportunistic. Take every chance you can to capitalize on a movement, event or trend for marketing purposes. In 2014, there were several social media and viral trends that presented perfect opportunities for some slick marketing tie-ins. Here are the three biggest from the last year:

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

It was everywhere; absolutely everywhere. What started out as a nice way to bring awareness to a terrible condition ended up being a social media tsunami.

It started to gain serious popularity through the sports world, as athletes and sports figures began challenging each other to perform the “Ice Bucket Challenge” to raise awareness for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). The challenge was simple: dump a bucket of ice water on yourself or donate money to ALS awareness/research. Some people were kind of enough to do both. And although it brought some hilarious videos with it, soon all of your friends on social media were simply doing it for fun (or attention) and the meaning was kind of lost.

But marketers smartly knew a good idea when they saw it, and began using the ice bucket challenge for promotion. Talk show hosts like Conan O’Brien and Ellen DeGeneres did the Ice Bucket Challenge – which just so happened to make for some nice viral marketing for their shows – as did CEOs like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Apple’s Tim Cook. And let’s not forget the biggest marketing winner of them all: the ALS foundation. It received $115 million in donations thanks to the Ice Bucket Challenge. It is amazing to see a well-deserved foundation receive that kind of support because of a creative campaign.


Do you have kids? If so, I would wager you have heard the song “Let It Go” from Frozen roughly 4,543,902 times (give or take). The Disney animated musical took the world by absolute storm this year for many reasons, not the least of which was its soundtrack. The hit song “Let It Go,” performed by Broadway star Idina Menzel, is the kind of tune that gives you chills (sorry, couldn’t resist). But after you’ve heard it for the 10th time in the last hour, you probably want to stick an ice pick in your ear.

There were countless parodies and tributes to the song on YouTube, but Kohl’s cleverly capitalized on the Frozen phenomenon in an ad featuring cute little kids singing. Yes, if you follow the link, you will be subjected to that song yet again, but the video is pretty amusing. And don’t act like it wasn’t already stuck in your head, anyway.

The meme

If you’re an internet savvy person, you’ve been aware of memes for years – they’ve been around for a long time. There’s even a helpful site dedicated to confirming and cataloguing the rise of memes, the aptly titled knowyourmeme.com. Essentially, memes are funny captions or titles placed over photos, sometimes following a specific theme. For example, the very popular “Socially Awkward Penguin” describes relatable awkward social situations people often find themselves in, all over the image of a penguin on a blue background.

But 2014 was the year memes hit the mainstream, and marketers were more than willing to get in on the action. Businesses started falling all over themselves to make memes, because they knew they would resonate with their tech savvy customers. Whether it was in the form of silly commercials or just posts to their social media account, businesses of all shapes and sizes got involved.

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