June 20, 2024

The impact of pop culture on marketing 

Pop culture is drastically changing the digital marketing scene by providing never-before-seen advertising opportunities.

Graphic by Emma Wharton

Whether noticed or not, pop culture deeply affects many aspects of life. This can be from what people wear or watch, how they talk, etc. What many may not realize is pop culture has the power to affect how and when they are exposed to branded content. 

It is no secret modern pop culture has completely changed the face of marketing. It is nearly impossible to aimlessly scroll for more than ten minutes without coming across some form of brand marketing on any social media platform. 

With the current social media culture and film scene, brands have taken on new advertising tactics that range from paid collaborations to painfully obvious product placements in movies. 

The most widely used and successful new marketing tactic involves the use of prominent social media figures. Due to the explosive growth of the popular social media app TikTok, a new phenomenon known as “influencer culture” has begun to flourish, and thus, using them for advertisement purposes has also begun to flourish in the marketing world. 

The appeal of using influencers for marketing purposes is simple. The majority of influencers rose to fame for being deemed relatable, and like the title, have the ability to influence average people to buy a variety of products. 

Brands pay influencers a pretty penny to endorse their products to their audience. Typically, this involves an influencer making a video using the product and “hyping it up.” 

However, some brands go to even further lengths. 

Tarte recently sent a group of 30 influencers on a private jet to Bora Bora where they spent four nights at the Four Seasons, sipping expensive drinks and sampling caviar at the price of posting the trip and endorsing the Tarte brand. 

That is quite a price tag Tarte is paying for marketing. But, for the most part, influencer marketing does not typically reach those extremes and usually involves baseline paid collaborations and brand deals. 

Another interesting way pop culture is affecting marketing is in the film scene, generally with (sometimes not so subtle) product placement. 

Product placement is a way for brands to incorporate their products into a film or TV show, which essentially acts as an advertisement without the viewer even really noticing what is happening. 

When done correctly, this is a relatively effective way for brands to take advantage of the pop culture scene and get viewers to at least have knowledge of their products. 

This is not an inexpensive way for brands to market. The advertising typically costs hundreds of thousands, sometimes even millions of dollars for brands to get maybe a couple seconds at most on the big screen. 

Throughout the new Mean Girls adaptation, E.L.F. was the main culprit of terrible product placement during the duration of the entire film. 

Other films with an excessive amount of not-so-subtle product placement include Barbie, Wally’s World, Zombieland and Josie and the Pussycats.  

Modern marketing may be effective, but it is incredibly expensive and tailored to benefit large, well-established companies. Small businesses have to get even more creative with their marketing ways to be able to drown out some of the noise that bigger companies make. 

It seems likely marketing will continue to progress with the movements of pop culture and it seems it is only going to continue to get more expensive and obvious.


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