Following my post from December, I found myself thinking I could make an amendment to it after watching an episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last week. If you’re not familiar with Mr. Fallon’s work, he’s best known as a cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1998 to 2004, and then became the host of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon from 2009 to 2014.
In the former, Fallon stood out through his impersonations, especially music ones (Barry Gibb Talk Show is my all-time favourite SNL skit). He carried over his ability to pull off spot-on impressions into his Late Night hosting gig, parodying the likes of Neil Young, Eddie Vedder, David Bowie, and many more. And seemingly every time he did one of these, it went viral. It’s a winning combination of comedy, musicality and simply “getting it” when it comes to social media (in a literal sense of the words – I mean, what’s more “social media” than a TV talk show?). He even integrated hashtags into his show every week by prompting viewers to tweet about a certain topic he announced, such as #HowIGotDumped or #DadQuotes. Most of these became worldwide Trending Topics on Twitter almost immediately. I can’t see Letterman, Leno, or even Conan doing these sorts of features (although Jimmy Kimmel’s “Celebrities Read Mean Tweets” reoccurring installment is pretty hilarious).
Transitioning from Late Night to The Tonight Show a few weeks ago, Jimmy Fallon carried over one of his most-watched skits – the #Hashtag video (the first installment with Justin Timberlake has over 22 million YouTube views). The new one, featuring Jonah Hill (with a short cameo from his Wolf of Wall Street director Martin Scorsese) already has over 2 million views, so even though the concept has indeed “#beendone”, it’s still clearly #working for Fallon.
But it wasn’t the #Hashtag2 video that prompted me to write this post, but rather, a new one titled “The Beatles Were Ahead of Their Time”. Besides the fact that I’ll watch pretty much anything Beatles-related, this new skit both intrigued and perplexed me when I saw it. It begins with Jimmy at his desk, informing the audience that rare unseen footage of the fab four’s famous first performance in America had been found, 50 years to the month of The Beatles performing ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ on the Ed Sullivan Show. The clip starts to roll, and then you realize it’s not the real Beatles, but rather an impersonation with Jimmy as John Lennon, and another former SNL cast member, Fred Armisen as Ringo Starr. As the song ends, the parodying begins… “Don’t forget to Like us on Facebook” “You can follow us on Twitter @TheRealBeatlesUK” “And we’re also on Instagram… @The_Beatles1 – check it out to see some exclusive backstage pics and some #ThrowbackThursdays” “Oh, we’re also doing this cool thing with Vine. Just upload a 6 second vid of you saying who your favourite Beatle is and why, and tag it with the hashtag #SpriteBeatles to enter to win 2 tickets to an upcoming show and 10% off your next can of Sprite #ObeyYourThirst”.
John Jimmy then proceeds to talk about a live tweet contest for the MTV Video Music Awards, where they’ll be getting a random silly phrase trending worldwide (sound familiar?), and prompts viewers to include the hashtag #RedBullBeatles, and then drops a “#RedBullGivesYouWings”. Lastly, he recalls that it’s “selfie Sunday” on Instagram, and proceeds to take/upload a shot of the group together. Wow, that was a lot of social media dropping and calls-to-action in just a couple minutes!
Everyone knows The Beatles didn’t use social media, but this skit gives some social commentary on how brands overuse it today. It provides an interesting contrast in taking the world’s most popular band of all time, and throwing all these seemingly desperate marketing ploys into what they bring to the audience. This begs the question of what is the right balance for brands to want people to interact with them on social media? And when is it all just too much? Of course, there are valid reasons for companies trying to gain exposure for their brands via social media – just look at these statistics from last year. In fact, I’m sure if it existed in the days of The Beatles, their record label would have been all over it! But at what point do all these brands trying to engage people through social media start to overwhelm them and create a negative connotation to actually interact (as seen in this video)? As the trend of brands becoming more social continues, will it reach a tipping point of desensitization? Has that already happened? Are there any real-life experiences you’ve had where you felt brands were overwhelming you to connect with them via social media and you were put off?