The Rise of ‘Banter Marketing’

We live in a media-saturated world where there is no escaping being the targets of one marketing strategy or another. Most of us consider ourselves aware of the tactics used by marketing agencies and big corporations to entice us in…..but are we? There’s a new kid on the block, and this particular technique has proven itself very effective.

New Forms of Marketing

‘Banter Marketing’ can be described as a brand or company poking fun at itself to attract attention. As The Guardian points out in their recent article, it is not “subtle or clever” but the effect this form of marketing can have on brand awareness (if done well) is impressive. The obvious example of this recently is everyone’s favourite pasty shop – Greggs. It began with the replacement of Jesus in the Nativity scene for a sausage roll in their Christmas advert, which undoubtedly caused controversy, but where there is controversy there’s a story. What ensued was a media storm which played right into the hand’s of the Greggs marketing team who suddenly had the brand in the forefront of the public eye. #GreggsNativity trended for two days straight after the advert’s release and the chain claimed that they were selling out of sausage rolls nationwide (statistic from The Guardian article).

Fast forward to more recent times and I imagine there are few of us who have not seen the hype surrounding Valentine’s Day Dinner at Greggs which has been doing the social media rounds. The Guardian article describes this as the “perfect storm”; they have embraced what they are and are poking fun at themselves which people like – they share it, talk about it and write about it.

Courting Controversy

Greggs arguably holds the title in recent times, however this is something that Paddy Power have harnessed with their marketing for years. Potentially the most controversial of which encouraged the audience to identify transgender women among the attendees to Ascot with the strap line “‘Spot the stallion from the mares’”. This campaign unsurprisingly inspired a huge backlash among the LGBT community and the media went to town reporting this, but later the same year Paddy Power announced a 15% increase in profit. Coincidence?

Whilst the courting of controversy is nothing new within marketing and PR, as Greggs, and notoriously Paddy Power have demonstrated there is considerable power in ‘Banter Marketing’ and offending a few people along the way does nothing but grease the media storm wheels. Success on social media and humour go hand-in-hand and it seems some companies have nailed the marketing formula to capture our imaginations and interest through their ridicule of themselves.

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