Whenever a trend or video goes viral, you can bet that there will be a lot of remakes, imitations, parodies, and homages created just as quickly. Brands love to be seen as up-to-date with the latest trends, mostly to capitalise upon their success and get some of the attention. Originally this was limited to those with a massive budget, but by the time it would reach TV screens, the trend would have become tired and people would have moved onto the next big thing.
Now the existence of YouTube means anyone can jump onto a trend and create their own parody or homage video in a short space of time. This has meant that numerous brands have created their own versions of existing videos and in some cases, they can even be better than the originals.
What Needs To Be Considered?
There are two main factors brands need to do before they can consider releasing their own version. The first is timing: exactly how long has it been since it first appeared as you need to be quick off the blocks if you want to capitalise on this. The second one is originally, or more specifically, how can you improve on the original? It's not enough to just do the same thing except have a few brand references thrown in, you need to give viewers a reason to watch your video and separate yourself from the inevitable number of homages that will quickly appear.
Sometimes taking the time to prepare something original will pay off in the long run, but you'll need something truly original or unique for people to properly take notice.
What better way to show what works by showing a few examples from the past year. Some are from brands, some aren't, but all base themselves on an original concept and improve upon it.
With over 591 million views, it's safe to say that pretty much everyone now knows PSY's Gangnam Style. The song has seen a slew of impersonations and remixes done in its honour. We've lost count of the number of times people have created their own version of the tune, but we'll go with this Ghostbusters remix simply because it's a lot of fun to watch and listen to.
Remember LMFAO (you know, silly lyrics, catchy tunes, crazy hair, etc.)? Remember how a lot of bands, groups and people made videos based on it? KIA took the tune and applied it to an incredibly bizarre situation, disco hamsters interrupting an intergalactic war. No, we have no idea where the inspiration came from either, but somehow it works.
As powerful as Bruno Ganz performance as Hitler was, few could have predicted just how many times his iconic outburst would be parodied. Almost every subject you can think of has been lambasted by Hitler, the most recent being Apple Maps (Also, for any brands reading this, please, please, please don't do a Downfall parody as they've been done to death).
Shit X Say
What originally began as a critique of the sillier things girls said took a life of its own and was applied to every facet of life. Girls, Apple fans, rocks, and even Silicon Valley wasn't safe from being critiqued.
Call Me Maybe
Another incredibly catchy song released earlier this year, this time from Carly Rae Jepsen. Anyone who tried to get the tune out of their heads wasn't helped by the number of covers and parodies that followed long after. A group of dogs, the Miami Cheerleaders, the US Olympic swimming team, the Star Wars films, and a choir and orchestra covered the song, but we like Seasme Street's version which features the cookie monster singing 'Share It Maybe.'
Evian has a lot to answer for creating this trend. Seeing babies do things that adults do is either cute or extremely creepy depending on how you view things, but that hasn't stopped numerous brands from placing them in rock bands or working out in the gym.
Is there anything more fun than LEGO? There are a massive number of videos that use the toy blocks to cover major events from Euro 2012, Felix Baumgartner's jump, major movies like Inception and even music videos.
Thank You Video
A growing trend among brands, many have created their own videos after reaching a specific milestone to thank their many fans. Brands like Nestle, Corona, KLM, Kraft, Cadbury's and Vodafone have created videos thanking their fans for following them. This video for Vodafone was something we created to celebrate its Facebook page reaching 100,000 fans.
Ok so there's only two on this list, but it's still a very good example on how to improve upon an original. Coca-Cola did it by rewarding honest Benfica fans free tickets to the next game after they returned a lost wallet. But Australian bank NAB added in a few neat touches to create something entirely unique.
If you're going to be talking about online trends, sooner or later cats are going to be involved. It's a rule of the internet or something. There are so, so many different examples to choose from, but we'll have to settle on agency John St's Catvertising video, which is brilliant on so many levels.
Should Brands Jump On Trends?
The answer to that really depends on how the subject matter is approached. Provided there's something original behind the idea, there's nothing to say that a brand can't create a successful video using a viral video as inspiration.
However, what brands need to remember is that viewers want to be wowed, amazed or see something that will provoke an emotional reaction. It can be easy to forget that the videos shown above have one or more of these qualities. Gangnam style was successful because it was a good tune and had a ridiculous video accompanying it, Call Me Maybe was a song that was difficult to forget no matter how hard you tried, the Shit Girls Say videos were fun because there was a truth to them, and so on. All these videos has something that made them watchable so the core of your video has to be good otherwise it will get lost among the millions of videos on the site.
The bottom line is if you can approach something with an original idea or unique angle, then it could definitely work, but if you're only interested in recreating something and cash in on a video's success, then perhaps you should look elsewhere.