Everyone loves a good parody, unless you’re bearing the brunt of the joke. BP isn’t laughing @BPGlobalPR, even though the jokester behind it is arguably helping the rest of us cope with one of the worst environmental disasters in years.
This week, BP’s response was to force the Twitter parody to identify itself as fake, as if it wasn’t completely obvious already. Would the real BP PR rep tweet something like, "Announcement: For every gallon of gas you buy at a BP station, you get a free .1 share of the company! #bpstocks"? Don’t think so.
With that being said, BP could have been a little quicker on the uptake. @BPGlobalPR has been operating for weeks; the damage is done. What’s worse for BP, in the act of identifying itself as fake, here was @BPGlobalPR’s snarky response: We are not at all associated with Beyond Petroleum, the oil company that has been destroying the Gulf of Mexico for 53 days.
On the flip side, parodies can be a brilliant marketing tool for companies, if they’re brave and funny enough to actually do them. Here are a few recent ones that are especially effective:
In the "Making fun of yourself" category: In case you’ve been under a rock, my favorite from the past week is NPR’s "New Products" spoof, which includes a Chatroulette, "Wait, wait…" and the priceless "Autotuned Things Considered."
In the "Making fun of the competition" category: A few months ago, Netsuite filmed a "Mac vs. PC Guy" – YouTube video slamming their competitor, SAP. While risky, this type of attack can build an edgier corporate brand and point out the flaws of the competition. I just wish more companies were willing to go there!