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Friday, November 24, 2006

The Power of Parody.

In addition to the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, this past week NYC boasted another event with flying characters: this one sponsored by Target and conducted by magician extraordinaire--or more aptly coined "endurance artist"--David Blaine.

If you don't know of Blaine, he's the eerily cool Houdini of our times having been buried alive, suspended above the River Thaimes for 40 days, submerged for seven days in a lifesize fishbowl in Lincoln Square and so on.

This go 'round he's been placed in a gyroscope for 52 hours above his corporate sponsor where Blaine attempted (and succeeded) to escape from shackles while dangling four stories above Times Square. Besides the promotional value for Target and Blaine, the stunt gives 100 kids a $500 shopping spree.

I did catch Blaine's water act in Lincoln Square this summer but was out of NYC for his gyroscope action this Thanksgiving. Darn. Here's some footage of the action (44 seconds):

But in my searches for a video showing Blaine free himself and plunge to earth I found the BEST Blaine video...which, ironically doesn't include Blaine at all. It's a parody and it's very funny. Right over 4 minutes, it succinctly captures Blaine's hallmarks, namely: freaking out his audience with his trickery and his trademark stare.

That's the thing about parodies, they promote the person they're picking on as much as they poke fun at them: a way of loving and mocking them simultaneously. In a recent piece for Business 2.0, Jeff Hicks, CEO of Crispin, Porter and Bogusky, advises, "The brands that are adopted, blogged about, and parodied the most are the ones that are going to win because they're involved in the evolution of pop culture".

So for those aspiring fame, you might also aspire to be made fun of--pretty powerful marketing, eh? Here is the Blaine parody (psst: for all you younger viewers this does include lots of f-bombs...and "what the eff?!" bombs):

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So weird that you mention this goofy magician or illusionist.

The best trick in the whole world is to correctly identify our readers, customers, or clients' needs...and sufficiently satisfy those needs on a consistent basis.

Someone recently speculated on whether David Blaine could be the "anti-Christ", since there are many who seem inordinately in awe of him, follow him around, and slurp up his weird mystical aura.

Ah, maybe Blaine is less sinister and is simply the Anti-Vaspers. Who knows? Oh thank you Big Bang for banging me into existence. Too much narcotic turkery.

That has to be one of the most annoying web sites I've ever seen in my entire life.

While some may ooh and ahh at the spiffy Flash junk, I found it extremely tiresome, hard to use, slow to respond to browser commands, and generally dorky as all get out.

I agree with Vaspers (what do all those other symbols in your name mean, by the way?). I've never been a fan of David Blaine. I find his stunts just weird and, frankly, who cares if he freezes in a block of ice or drowns in a big vat at Lincoln Center. I must admit he is a master at hype, but so are many other people in show business whose real talent may be questionable.

I found the parody more of a mock than a tribute to Blaine.

Next subject, please.

CK,

I fear we doth protest too much. The point is the parody, not the video or even the trick. Whether we like or dislike Blaine, and I fall into the ambivalent category, Target reaped great exposure from this stunt.

I'm with you CK. Whatever we can do to be heard above the noise, we should consider.

But Lewis, if you're heard above the noice with a voice that turns people off, you can alienate those people. That's always a risk when you go with celebs.

David,

Yes, but everyone annoys someone, so we need to weigh the evidence that going with Blaine results in a negative response.

My guess is that most of us know little about David Blaine and we neither find him reveting or annoying, making Target the winner because of the fascination of 1) someone being suspended above the store and 2) 100 kids receiving $500 worth of free stuff.

well hello gentlemen, sorry I missed out on the convo earlier. I'm also sorry if anyone is having issues accessing the videos--I think YouTube is down today (Sat).

As for Blaine: I am a fan of his trickery because of its creativity. Some celebs try to reivent themselves with a new look, Blaine continues to pose new feats of endurance for himself. He commands an audience and a following (both nationally and internationally).

I like that he's taken the stance of not pulling the curtains and disappearing (like some magicians) and focused more on pushing his own limits. BUT...it's his street magic stuff that I like FAR better than his other stunts--because I think he's strongest when he's interacting with folks and freaking them out through otherwise trivial tricks (e.g. the stuff he does with coins and cards). I've always found him to be a master marketer on this front.

On the parody: I really enjoyed this parody because while they are poking fun at his eccentric style they're underscoring just what a talent he is. They're not showing him to be a fake, but rather a master of freaking people out through his craft (and yeah a freak). I don't view this parody as hurting his fanfare, just the opposite--and fun to boot.

It's interesting to me to see the different categories of parodies meaning, some poke fun at people for being unworthy of attention or fandom...where I see this one as focusing on just how wild and interesting this guy is.

Thanks for commenting, good stuff for me to think on.

David: the symbols in my name are an esoteric Captain Crunch code that, when anyone clicks on my name to visit my site, triggers a certain config file that begins a secret process that, once enough people click it, will eventually DELETE THE ENTIRE INTERNET.

It's my little magic trick. I only need a small number of additional clicks to reach the critical mass threshhold.

I have already moved most of my duplicate blog files to the network that will be replacing what we web guys call the Commodity Internet (the one most people know and use).

The Commodity Internet, full of porn, games, pharma cons, and personal drivel blogs, is doomed to collapse soon, with or without my little scheme.

I'm just racing to be the one who gets all the fame and glory and mainstream media attention. I want to be the one who successfully deletes the entire internet.

I suggest you start switching your browser controls and system protocols to the Interplanetary Sporadic Connectivity Network, which is what I believe will be the replacement net.

InterPlaNet

www.ipnsig.org

Hey Vaspers, don't delete the internet. There's much that should be deleted, but there's also a bit that's worthwhile.

Nonetheless, I clicked on your site and, while I haven't a clue as to what you're talking about with the Interplanetery Internet, my click today will take you one step closer to your Toilet Theshhold.

Good luck... I think.

Thanks David. I'll be sure to tell the news media that you kindly contributed to the disappearance of the Commodity Internet, and maybe you'll be famous too.

The Interplanetary Internet is a project of NASA, and some other parties, to construct a sporadic connectivity network that links space stations, probes, satellites, etc. with the Earth-bound nets. It works like email in that it does not need to be always on or maintain a continuous connections. Data packages can be stored and delivered asynchronously. This because the gamma rays and space junk can interfere with the connection.

So this is my little magic trick, as I said. Set the controls for the heart of the sun.

Yup, humour is another way to be marketed via word of mouth.

However, I doubt it is worthwhile trying to present yourself in a way to be humoured at or about. You'll be deluting your [brand] image then. I guess just doing your best for the customers will sooner or later result in a following, and it is much more valuable than just humor marketing.

I shouldn't consider it a coincidence, as before I have read your post, I've written a fan post about Bill Slawski.

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