Posted: October 14, 2011

Reaching customers through pop culture


Rebecca Odell is Big Red Rooster’s communications coordinator.  She’s a social media savvy Rooster who loves keeping up with the latest marketing and branding trends. 



If there’s one thing I’ve realized lately, it’s that people both young and old love pop culture.

If you look around you, you’ll quickly realize that pop culture is everywhere. Friends flock to trivia nights and demonstrate their random factoid knowledge. Entertainment news magazines entice us as we wait in line at the grocery store. Cable networks devoted to entertainment stream as millions watch. Pop culture references flood Twitter’s “trending topics” as the social media savvy chat about their favorite shows and Beyonce’s baby bump.

Clearly, I’m not the only one who picked up on the obsession. Several of my Big Red Rooster coworkers and I noticed CPGs, retailers, and brands are capitalizing on this trend and connecting with their users/customers/shoppers through pop culture.

Examples that caught my attention include:

Banana Republic’s Co-branded “Mad Men” Line

Men can look as dapper as Don Draper and women can flaunt fancy frocks thanks to Banana Republic’s “Mad Men”-inspired line. The 65-item capsule collection, which launched in August 2011, consists of clothing and accessories that reflect 1960s fashions while still appealing to the modern shopper. Although I’ve never watched the popular television series (go ahead and shame me,) I was lucky enough to snag one of the dresses as a birthday gift.

Nike’s Back to the Future Kicks

Thanks to my older brother, I think I’ve watched each “Back to the Future” movie at least 15 times. And now, thanks to Nike, Marty McFly’s futuristic footwear is obtainable. Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, who designed the original shoe concept for “Back to the Future II,” brought the shoes to life 23 years later. The first 150 pairs were sold via eBay and raised almost $1 million for The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Awesome, right?

Betty Crocker’s TV-inspired Recipes

Even CPGs are extending their brands via pop culture, and Betty Crocker is no exception. The kitchen queen recently released an entire line of recipes themed after popular television shows. “True Blood” fanatics can sip on vampire-worthy cocktails, and Fox’s “Glee” fans (guilty!) can chomp on Slushee Cupcakes.

So you’re probably wondering: What does this trend really mean for brands, CPGs, and retailers?

Connecting with users/customers/shoppers via pop culture ties back to the overarching idea of strengthening the consumer’s emotional attachment to a product. While this isn’t a new idea, it’s interesting to see how this trend has evolved from simple marketing and advertising to actual product development and co-branding efforts. I know our team constantly challenges clients to explore these nontraditional approaches, giving brands social relevance.

What are your thoughts? Can you think of additional examples of retailers, CPGs and brands creating emotional connections with their users/customers/shoppers through pop culture? If so, give Big Red Rooster a shout via Twitter or Facebook.

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