Spotlight on spoof as UKIP take a trip to Trumpton & the Penguin rules!

By December 8, 2014

This week the spotlight has turned onto the topic of spoof.   With Christmas just around the corner and the John Lewis Penguin @Montythepenguin forging ahead in twitter popularity. It is not surprising that one of the big hits (so far) of the season has been a spoof posted on YouTube of the endearing advert.

For those who have had their heads buried in the sand for the past few weeks, the John Lewis original is a classic love story of boy meets girl — except between penguins! Perhaps inspired by Nescafe’s love story over a cuppa, we haven’t had a parallel to talk about — until now!

And social media buzz can’t get enough of the romance between Monty and Mabel. To date, Monty has achieved a following of over 32K on his Twitter account alone and according to sales figures the product is shifting too.

So not surprising that everyone wants a bit of the penguin’s magic, which is why we have been so captivated by the Welsh furniture shop — Pieces for Places who came up with an ingenious way to leverage the penguin’s buzz.

Their spoof version of the advert has already had over 125K views, as well as media exposure across all mainstream news outlets. Out of this world coverage for what has been in effect the launch of a new business.

As advertisers, we greatly fear audience burn out of our adverts and if this kicks in too early people can get bored, or worse start to get agitated with the adverts and the brands that created them.

But in the case of the John Lewis spoof (or should we say one of them as there are now many online), the welsh ‘spoofers’ could actually have helped John Lewis by adding a new twist — we still all know its John Lewis but we get to watch with renewed vigour as a man dressed in a penguin suit jumps into the marina (that bit is hilarious by the way).

Captivated by the idea of spoof we turned to our dictionaries. We noticed that there is quite a difference between the sentiment carried through the descriptive noun and the doing verb associated with performing ‘The spoof’. Perhaps this explains how on the one hand something is seen as humorous and in the case of the Welsh furniture shop is possibly even seen to add reach for the original campaign, whilst the other hand it can cause agitation and the threat of legal action for passing itself off as the original in some way.

The definitions we found included:

Spoof Noun

A humorous imitation of something, typically a film or a particular genre of film, in which its characteristic features are exaggerated for comic effect.

Spoof Verb

Imitate (something) while exaggerating its characteristic features for comic effect.

Source: Google

Perhaps it is the verb version of the terms ‘spoof’ that has caused the UKIP upset this week? The media are reporting that they are less than impressed with a spoof account called @Trumpton_UKIP.

Apparently the originator of the account Mike Dicks is being heavily encouraged to take the account down with a pubic cry from UKIP MP Mr Coburn to supporters to report the account and get it blocked.

The Telegraph quotes the creator of @Trumpton_UKIP, Mike Dicks as saying:

“They [UKIP] use social media a lot but I don’t think they understand it. If they had turned around and gone along with the joke it would have petered away.”

What’s more the paper reports that ‘spurred on by Mr Coburn’s complaints Mr Dicks now plans to keep the account going until at least the general election’.

This issue is compounded by the fact that the spoof account now has more followers than the complainant himself which is often the way and impacts on even the most high profile of characters, for example @Jesus_M_Christ @Queen_UK spring to mind.

But leaving the Christmas spirits aside for a moment, of course spoofing can have both an ethical and financial downside for the originators of the brands. It is well publicised how much time, money and effort goes into the creation of the John Lewis advertising campaigns. It is perhaps seeing all those creative juices walk out the door free of charge that is hard to stomach for the marketing teams associated with the brands that created them.

That said, the purist will also argue that any brand is a reflection of peoples engagement with the identity and they do say that imitation is a sign of flattery! And in the era of ‘engagement’ spoofing is at least getting people talking about your brand, which makes it easier for them to recognise you when you do decide to send them a message.

Either way it is probably going to be the first ‘To do’ for UKIP’s new communication director (announced today) Paul Lambert. With a nickname of ‘Gobby’ (Twitter @westminstergoby) he will certainly have something to say and we hope that he reads our blog on why political aids need training on social media before he tackles his duties steering the landscape of social media for the party.