The “Gangnam Style” Sensation

Last month South Korean rapper Psy’s Gangnam Style set a Guinness World Record for most likes on youtube in just three months with over two hundred million times. The viral sensation has taken off in the United States as well as inspired a dance craze of fans reenacting the video.

Oddly enough, Psy is a pitchman in South Korea and markets a variety of products including Cass light beer, LG’s mobile service, Samsung kimchi refrigerators, and an energy drink. With the overwhelming popularity of Gangnam Style in the United States it’s interesting to see what brands will choose him to help market their brand. Brad Haugen, CMO of Scooter Braun Projects stated, “[T]he obvious categories for Psy to market are cars, packaged goods, and electronics and the first U.S. deal is soon to be made.”

In an article by The Harvard Business Review they explained there is much to learn from Psy’s Gangnam Style sensation. Dae Ryun Chang stated the following:

Make your product or brand more ownable. The no-copyright and “Style” suffix of the song’s title played big parts in allowing people to easily adopt, re-stylize and then spread the song. Similarly, products and brands need to discover their own elements that can be just as ownable. A great example is Oreo Cookies’ Daily Twist campaign where people go beyond just clicking “Like” by suggest timely, personal and innovative ways to celebrate the cookie.

Be open-minded, but in a controlled way. Psy’s crowdsourcing strategy was limited to just the dance community. Confining the source of ideas to a knowledgeable base allowed Psy to increase creativity, but at the same time make sure that no time was wasted filtering out impractical ideas. Unrestricted crowdsourcing runs the danger of leading to outrageous results, such as when fans or pranksters on the Internet voted that Justin Bieber tour North Korea.

Find an uncommonly-common emotional denominator that resonates across cultures. Psy has stated that he made the “Gangnam Style” video only for his native country. Nevertheless, both the video and Psy have found universal popularity despite bucking convention in terms of the language and the look of a global pop idol. In fact, Psy’s transcendent appeal is that he is a likable anti-pop idol who is very comfortable in his own skin. It’s something ironically not lost on Justin Bieber’s manager, who recently signed Psy.

And if all else fails.. learn the dance. Temple Free Food Fun Friday proves it’s fun to do with friends!





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