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The Harlem Shake: Marketing ‘Madness’

February 22, 2013


I’ve missed a few good blogging opportunities this past month, Pancake Day came and went and I didn’t take a snap of my favourite recipe and topping (nor did I eat any, so all in all it would have been a rubbish post), Valentine’s Day totally passed me by without feeling the need to voice my opinion on the strange things that supermarkets suggest we buy for our lovers (Disaronno?!… Disaronno?!), and I just never did pen that post on Beyoncé and her Marmite-esque personality: so many things to love, yet so annoying simultaneously.

Which brings me to the Harlem Shake. Finally, something I feel strong enough about to deserve a post.

As well as being a song doing quite well in the UK charts, it’s also a YouTube sensation. I’m not quite sure why everyone started creating these videos of the Harlem Shake, but there are trillions of videos of people standing around until the beat drops in the song and they go wild.

My main gripe isn’t with your average person dancing to it in their living room – it looks like a fun way to pass the time – dressing up, dancing crazily, throwing things up in the air, what’s not to like? It’s when companies latch onto these crazes you know it’s gone sour.

From the handful of videos I’ve had the displeasure to stumble across, half of them have been made by businesses who have strategically placed some company signage in the video, then posted it onto a social media platform with the tagline ‘look at us all go crazy, aren’t we fun?!’.  The people who randomly decide to do it in their living room – that’s fun; the kids dancing to it on the street – that’s fun; the companies who drain the purity of doing something spontaneous by trying to subliminally promote their business – that’s when I turn off.

It also feels a little too soon after the altogether superior internet sensation, Gangnam Style, to be bringing out another one of these internet memes. Gangnam Style worked because there had never been an internet sensation like that before, or at least there hadn’t been a dance craze that every single person recognised in a while. The Harlem Shake is simply latching onto Gangnam’s success and without as much effect.

Even DJs who work on the Radio 1 Chart Show speak in a lacklustre tone when describing the Harlem Shake, predicting that there’ll be masses of videos produced by everyone from your postman to your Nan. Basically inferring that doing this dance craze is predictable and boring, and in profit-making organisations (including Universities) doing their own version of the Harlem Shake, they aren’t really being innovative and have quite the opposite effect of standing out.

All in all, it would be cheaper and have as much effect to buy a huge sticker saying ‘You don’t have to be crazy to work/study here but it helps.’. Anyway, when a dance move is performed I like to see it done properly, not some watered-down version which I can hardly imagine was ever performed in Harlem.


6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 23, 2013 2:06 am

    I had no idea it was even a trend until I started noticing some of the people I was subscribed to on Youtube crank out videos of it. But it could be because I’m not living in the States anymore at the moment…..
    I also hate when companies decide to latch onto a trend just to try and say “look! we’re so cool, that’s why you should buy our stuff!” or some other similar strategy. It kind of pisses me off to see that corporations think the general public are really that dumb as to be duped by a trick like that.

    • February 23, 2013 8:42 pm

      I know totally stupid – companies need to be clever not churn out the same rubbish as everyone else – just as I was writing this post I saw a clip posted on Facebook of McDonald’s doing their own version…although the integrity of that company is questionable…

  2. February 23, 2013 4:21 am

    I agree wholeheartedly. I hate when people try to prove that their workplace is fun and hip. Barf. Shouldn’t you be, I don’t know, working? I liked Gangnam because it was fun and new and it actually had moves that you had to learn. Much like Solja Boy’s song, and the Macarena for example–fun! Teach me how to Dougie and Harlem Shake don’t take much to figure them out…I like a dance craze just as much as the next person, but I like them to be fun and different!

    • February 23, 2013 8:45 pm

      True, forced fun is never actually fun! Totally bringing up some cool dance crazes there – I defo like a bit of proper moves to my dance crazes too!

  3. March 13, 2013 5:01 pm

    I never thought I’d say this, but it may be time to unleash a “Y.M.C.A.” re-boot and end this madness.

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