Lessons on how to break through the noise.

By Amber Hudson and Luke Sklar

Gangnam Style.  I’m assuming you’ve heard about it by now.  If not, get your head out of your quarterly reports and get out there!  Sure, it may not be what you jam to on your way to work, but it’s the most “liked” YouTube video in history, and viewed +400 million times and counting.  The artist, Psy, is on the circuit (SNL, Ellen, Today) and has just been signed by none other than Justin Bieber’s manager  Scooter Braun. Not to mention, this will likely be one of the top Halloween costumes this year.

On one hand I just don’t get it.  And on the other hand I tooootally get it.   It’s at the same time absurd, endearing, funny, wacky, weird, cute and confusing, all wrapped up in one hell of a catchy song.  It is unlike anything that’s out there right now.  And that’s just it.  Sure, this may prove to be a one hit wonder, but there are clear marketing lessons from Psy on how to succeed by being an anti-brand:

Don’t act like a leader – in North America Psy is far from your average mega star, lacking the swagger you typically see from those who have become a household name.  The guy clearly does not take himself too seriously (the scene on the toilet?  And I’m not quite sure what that guy in the elevator is doing).

Don’t look like a leader – he’s not pretty like Justin, or stylin’ like Usher.  But somehow those pink Bermuda shorts and pastel tuxedo jackets seem to work.

Don’t protect your brand equity – By purposely not trademarking “Gangnam Style” Psy has encouraged people to make fun of his brand, opening the gates for a flood of parodies (search YouTube, you’ll see)

Don’t control your brand – Psy gave control to his audience, using crowdsourcing to come up with that hilarious (and easy to follow – we’ve done it in the office) “invisible horse dance.”

So before you gravitate towards the standard issue brand clichés, bust out the invisible horse dance and challenge your brand to break through the clutter, Gangnam style.