Marketing & Gangnam Style

psy-gangnam-style-danceThe crazy horse dance moves and the catchy tune of the song has dominated the world, both the real and the virtual one. The song’s popularity has taken the world by storm. It has become one of the most downloaded in ITunes and Psy has performed on various shows in the United States.

What sets the song “Gangnam Style” apart from the rest? Why are people from all over the world drawn to it even if they are only able to understand a few words from the song? What important lessons can businesses learn from the song which they can apply to their own brand?

The traditional marketing model is no longer useful. Even the widely read HBR blogger, Bill Lee agrees. Just take a look at the success which “Gangnam Style” has achieved and you will see what I mean.  There is much to be learned from how the makers of the hit song

Flexible Copyright.

This encouraged sharing and creating parodies of the song. If you check the Internet today, you will see hundreds of parodies of the hit song. The song currently has more than 300 million views worldwide and this does not include the views for all the parodies which are also posted online.

Another tactic that worked out quite well to Psy’s advantage was the fact that he did not rely on his choreographers to create the dance moves for him. The now very popular and often imitated “invisible horse dance” was created from the suggestions of Koreans.

Psy is also not the most handsome face in the Korean K-pop industry. As a matter of fact, he does not fit the mold at all. He looks like the average Korean walking down the street. He is not the man women fantasize about. He is very far from the high roller residents of Gangnam in Korea.

What are the valuable lessons from Gangnam Style virility?

Promote your product as something which people can own.  One of the things about Gangnam Style which appeal to people is the fact that it gives them artistic freedom and allows them to create their very own version of the song. It gives them the chance to own the song. There are many ways to enjoy and dance the Gangnam Style song and what could be more helpful for your brand’s popularity than by people sharing the song?

Be open to new ideas but still have creative control.

There is no better way to sell to people than by asking them what they what, in a sense is exactly what Psy did. He did not rely on consensuses but he also did not let things get out of hand. The result? No outrageous ideas but only things which the crowd loves.

Find something common. Although the video and the song were meant to target Korean audiences, it gained universal popularity because Psy is the man most people do not consider when you say “idol”. He may not be as good-looking and dare I say sexy but he is very comfortable being himself, excess weight, cheesy dance moves and all.

It can be quite a challenge for a brand to penetrate a market which is already saturated with other popular and established. If you want to be break into the market and make people notice, you need to have a concept which is fun but sincere. Just look at Psy and Gangnam Style. Psy may be a one hit wonder but he has truly made his mark with Gangnam Style.


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