How Weird Al Got Viral

Weird Al Yankovic

He’s not ill. He’s just “Tacky.” The artist known as Weird Al went viral with his song parodies, starting on July 14 with “Tacky,” sung to the melody of Pharrell’s “Happy.” He’s releasing eight videos in eight days, ending today, in order to promote his album, “Mandatory Fun.”
What this has to do with marketers is Alfred Matthew Yankovic is managing to orchestrate virality. His videos are all over Twitter, YouTube and various blog sites. His second song—”Word Crimes,” a satire of “Blurred Lines”—was at the top of my tailored trends feed on July 15, even though Yankovic’s hashtag is #8videos8days. (Twitter is right: As a journalist, I do find word crimes particularly abhorrent; therefore, Weird Al’s song is funny.)

Lucia Moses, senior editor at Digiday, thinks she has the formula for marketers to follow in order to create the same Weird Al success. In her article published on July 17, “The Weird Al Guide to Modern Marketing,” she provides five tips:

  • Stick With What You Do Best. “Weird Al Yankovic’s first music parody was ‘My Bologna,’ a riff on The Knack’s “My Sharona,” which he made in 1979 as a college student,” she writes. That was 35 years ago.
  • Build Suspense. Unless fans buy the 12-song album he released Yankovic released on July 15, they won’t have a clue what may be in the eight videos.
  • Use Earned Media. Like this.
  • Use Your Friends. He partnered with College Humor, Funny or Die and Nerdist to put out the videos, in which friends like Jack Black, Margaret Cho and Thomas Lennon appeared.
  • Timing Is Everything. It’s the age of satire, Moses says.

If Yankovic were to add a bonus tip, he might say “Continue to Evolve.”

Considering this is his last album on his current record contract, he’s thinking about the future. He thinks putting out singles makes more sense, as he tells Music Times.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

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