Chaotic marketing refers to when brands veer from the traditional methods and take an unconventional approach on social media, be it for their marketing or for conversations with their audience. Unhinged marketing uses memes, a snarky and sassy voice, viral content, or funny posts to provide entertainment. It’s in direct contrast to the even and polished voice that traditional marketing uses.
But why, exactly, is unhinged marketing on the rise? Younger generations, especially Gen Z and Gen X, crave authenticity from brands. They want to glimpse the humans behind the brands and connect with them. Chaotic marketing checks all the boxes. It’s real, entertaining, and grabs the attention of people without explicitly selling anything. It also resonates with people more and has a higher re-share value, which means more audience, making it a win-win for all.
5 Brands Using Unhinged Marketing on Social Media
You either hate unhinged marketing or absolutely love it. There’s no in-between. Take a look at these brands that decided to go off the hinges and decide for yourself which side you fall on.
Duolingo, the language learning app with a cute owl for its mascot, is one of the original brands that “went rogue.” Duo, the owl mascot of Duolingo, has garnered a reputation for being silly and unhinged on TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), and Instagram, and viewers eat it up! This includes hopping on the latest trends, making memes, uploading funny videos, and playing along when someone pokes fun at the app.
Duolingo also has some consistent storylines: a one-sided rivalry with Google Translate, Duo’s crush on Dua Lipa, a running joke that Duo keeps their legal team very busy, and the mildly threatening notifications that the app sends when you miss a lesson. These storylines are so popular that people often use them to make memes.
Capitalizing on entertainment over selling has obviously paid off as Duolingo generated a whopping $265.7 million in revenue in just 3 quarters of 2022. It’s also the top-downloaded language learning app with over 500 million registered users, out of which 37 million are active every month.
Wendy’s, the famous fast food chain, is another one of the original brands that started embracing chaos on social media, especially X. The brand has become known for its sassy and witty tweets as well as its roasts (not the food kind). That’s right. The brand actually roasts its competitors, like McDonald’s and Popeye’s, and even its followers.
One of Wendy’s most successful strategies has been celebrating the #NationalRoastDay where the brand invites people to get roasted. This went viral, resulting in an influx of followers for the brand. In fact, people and other brands alike started tagging Wendy’s and daring it to roast them!
This unique approach of entertaining people by roasting them seems to be working because the company’s revenue in the first quarter of 2023 increased by 8.2% to $528.8 million!
RyanAir is a low cost Irish airline that lets you fly cheap across Europe. The low cost means the airline has to cut corners. This includes not turning on the AC in flights, only allowing a single small bag, and very little legroom. But instead of trying to shut down the complaints, the brand embraces it and makes memes out of it.
Not only are they unhinged, they are absolutely unapologetic! Another running joke that they like to keep up is their hatred for windows.
You have got to admire a brand that’s capable of poking fun at itself! Many people clearly share the same sentiments because RyanAir has more than a 100% increase in year-on-year revenue and is the leading airline in Europe in terms of passenger numbers.
4. Scrub Daddy
Scrub Daddy is a brand that makes innovative smiley face sponges that change textures based on the water temperature. On social media, the brand uses the happy sponge as its mascot and posts funny videos and memes. One of their consistent storylines is the happy sponge harassing people who use other “mid” sponges.
As you can see by the comments, people eat it up! They also often repost funny tweets that their customers make about using Scrub Daddy products and turn it into a fun marketing opportunity.
Quirky, funny, and relevant to chronic social media users, Scrub Daddy is totally winning at this chaotic marketing thing. In addition to having stellar marketing skills, the sponges have also become a fan favorite due to their great quality and sell out quickly after hitting the shelves. They also make seasonal sponges in a variety of shapes known as scrub mommies that have lots of fans.
Before Scrub Daddy appeared in Shark Tank in 2017, it was valued at $1 million. Today, its net worth is $209 million, so it’s safe to say that the company has achieved a lot of growth and success.
MoonPie is a brand that sells one thing: Moonpies. It’s a chocolate-covered pie made with graham crackers and a marshmallow center. Their social media is funny, unhinged, and will make you laugh. In fact, this strategy made MoonPie the top social media brand way back in 2017!
They also have snarky replies at the ready and are quick to roast people who try to make fun of the brand.
Their rivalry with the sun is a consistent storyline that they follow and it’s hilarious! And if another brand introduces a product that looks like a moon? MoonPie is right there acting offended and it is fun to witness.
MoonPie was founded over a century ago and is still popular today thanks, in part, to their social media marketing.
Now that we have taken a look at 5 brands that are killing it with chaotic marketing, it’s time for an important question..
Is Chaotic and Unhinged Marketing Right for Your Brand?
Even though unhinged marketing works well for many brands, it doesn’t always work well for everyone. For example, new brands that are just getting started. In most cases, you need a solid foot in the industry door and loyal customers to be able to pull this off.
It also matters which generation most of your audience belongs to. If your brand is targeted more towards boomers than Gen Z and Gen X, then this approach might miss the mark. There’s also the fact that many brands don’t know how to be sassy without being offensive.
So, who should go unhinged and who should stick to traditional marketing? Here’s a helpful table. But remember that, ultimately, the decision of whether to try this out or not remains with you (and your investors).
|Unhinged Marketing Would Work||Unhinged Marketing is a Big No|
|Food and drink brands||Financial institutions|
|Young and hip startups rebelling against traditional office work culture||Government institutions|
|Gaming brands||Brands selling products for children|
|Alt fashion brands||Luxury brands|
|Tech brands||Educational institutions|
|Artists||Real estate companies|
Unhinged marketing is high risk, but gives off a high reward when it works. So, do some market research, get to know your audience, and have a plan in place before you try it out.