Riding the Gangnam Style Wave

There’s no escaping the “Gangnam Style.”  The dance craze from South Korean’s artist Psy surprised the world with its astounding success.  The Korean pop song is the epitome of a viral video.  Who can resist the quirky dance moves and catchy tune, even though the song is entirely in Korean?  Psy has been featured on stage on Ellen, Today and Saturday Night Live.  Gangnam Style even has its own lengthy Wikipedia page.  Less than six months after its release in July 2012 “Gangnam Style” reached 1 billion views on Youtube in late November.  The video became the sites most-watched clip, surpassing Justin Bieber’s single “Baby.”

What explains the global response and viral nature of the video?  The “Gangnam Style” video has a lively emotional roller-coaster effect, but in a music video format.  As you watch you are curious what is going to happen next, it strikes an emotion, and finally  you feel compelled to share the eccentric video.

The song intentionally does not have any copyright attached to it.  People are encouraged to create their own online parodies, thousands of which are circulating on the Internet.  The total reach of this cultural phenomenon has multiplied, with the original “Gangnam Style” in addition to all the online parodies that have been created, viewed, and shared.

Social media managers from large global brands have caught onto the international success of the dance hit, instilling their marketing materials with their own rendition of the song.  Intel jumped on the “Gangnam Style” wagon with a Facebook photo post that featured a man in an Intel shirt doing the “Gangnam Style” dance in a horse stable.  The photo received more than 500,000 Likes, 40,000 shares and 13,000 comments, since it was posted three months ago.  Other well known global brand such as Red Bull Racing, Abercrombie Kids, M&Ms, and Vodafone have also leveraged the success of the “Gangnam Style” in their communications material.

What is the main takeaway from all this? Do not underestimate the power of social media and its global reach.


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