Blog Post

How to Use Pop Culture in Advertising Within Your Brand Messaging Strategy

03/15/2022 - Sierra Ducey

According to Bloomberg, Netflix’s popular show “Squid Game“ reached 142 million houses worldwide, making it the most-watched new show in Netflix history. Not only that, but the show generated $891.1 million in impact value — approximately 41.7 times the budget allotted for its creation.

The success of “Squid Game” demonstrates how quickly pop culture trends pop up. When new cultural phenomena come on the scene, they take over rapidly. But they sometimes fade just as fast. That said, marketers have to be mindful of using pop culture in advertising. Add to that just how fast-paced conversations about these trends are, and brands must be extra vigilant.

Ultimately, the question isn’t, “Everyone is talking about this, so what do we say?” Rather it’s, “Should we talk about this just because everyone else is talking about it?” Advertisers have to think, first and foremost, about what actually fits in their brand messaging strategy and make decisions from there.

Turning Moments of Pop Culture Phenomena Into Branding Opportunities

Culture has the power to enhance your brand’s advertising efforts, just as long as your brand messaging strategy keeps up with pop culture trends and the sentiments surrounding them. We’ve created a few questions to ask yourself to help determine whether you are prepared to incorporate rapid-fire response into your media mix.

Evaluate your brand messaging and tone.

Before you start creating ads or responses about pop culture trends, you first need to have an established, foundational brand message. Responses to trends should enhance your brand, but they aren’t the backbone of it. Do consumers see your brand the way you want them to? If the answer is yes, you have room to layer in trends and other elements that bolster your established branding. Consider taking a pulse on your current strategy with the following questions:

  • How do you want consumers to see your brand? What are the core values you want to communicate?
  • Alternately, how do consumers currently view your brand? Do your vision and reality align?
  • What tactics and solutions are you using to ensure that consumers understand the integral attributes and offerings of your brand?
  • What tactics do you need to implement to ensure the right audience is being reached with this messaging?
  • What tactics could you implement to take your messaging a step further?
  • At what point in the next 12 months could you start implementing more rapid-fire responses into your brand messaging?

How Advertisers Can Capitalize on Pop Culture Trends Strategically

Here’s how you can utilize current trends and pop culture in advertising while staying on brand strategy:

1. Understand your competition.

One of the best tools you can use to evaluate whether you should create pop culture-oriented ads and brand messages is knowing how your competitors are doing it. What do they do well? How could you take your outreach a step further? Having a blueprint for what is and isn’t working well outside of your own brand is an incredibly valuable tool if you’re hoping to make cultural moments part of your advertising.

2. Have a crisis management process prepared.

When commenting on pop culture in real time, there is always the chance you will miss the mark. Someone on social media might not take to your response or advertisement well, stirring backlash among other consumers. Have a process in place detailing how you will deal with problems if they arise.

3. Pick a brand messaging strategy that makes sense for you.

Identify general topics or areas of interest that align with your brand and key stakeholders. Having this list to reference when an opportunity arises will make deciding to join the conversation much easier. It will also help ensure that your brand continues to meet consumer expectations. Granted, there will be opportunities that arise that you hadn’t discussed when making this list, but it is a good starting point.

4. Consider which tools and channels will further your messaging.

In advertising, certain channels work best for different steps in the sales funnel. You have to determine where in this process you will incorporate direct-response opportunities. Ask yourself where in your current media mix you feel most confident: Where can you switch the budget toward direct-response messages? Which channels are you using for awareness, consideration, and sales? Answering these questions will help you boldly commit to your budget in times of change.

5. Continue moving your marketing forward.

Creating a marketing strategy that incorporates pop culture trends isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it process. It has to be reiterated every few months to ensure that any changes have been addressed, new opportunities are being met, and your baseline strategy is still successful.

Pop culture trends change rapidly, so it’s important to remain flexible but on-brand if you incorporate them into your brand messaging. Remember: You don’t have to enter every conversation — only those that align with your goals and really enable you to connect with your audience. To learn more about this and other ways to make your advertising effective and strategic, get in touch today.

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