If you don’t understand the terms “Corn Kid” or “It’s Corn!” then you may have been living under a rock for the past few weeks. The video, which originated on the popular digital show Recess Therapy, co-created by Doing Things Media.
“Corn Kid has allowed brands to participate in the cultural conversation through creative imagery or audio".
If you don’t understand the terms “Corn Kid” or “It’s Corn!” then you may have been living under a rock for the past few weeks. The video, which originated on the popular digital show Recess Therapy, co-created by Doing Things Media and Julian Shapiro-Barnum, has achieved a level of virality that occurs as often as a lunar eclipse and, as a result, brands have responded by joining the Corn Kid cultural conversation.
JBL Audio integrated the trend into their TikTok strategy. Dunkin’tapped into it on Instagram. Chipotle’s post with the Corn Kid himself has generated over 2 million likes and 11,000 comments, one of the most highly engaged posts for Chipotle and bringing a new audience to the account.
The adorable video struck an emotional connection with millions and immediately led to a viral effect of likes, comments and shares. How can marketers leverage trends to achieve cultural relevance for their brands?
The world’s first glimpse of the Corn Kid was through Recess Therapy, a social-first video series, where Shapiro-Barnum interviews children in New York City about a wide array of topics meant to tap into adults’ childlike sensibilities.
On August 4, Recess Therapy posted a clip of a child named Tariq proclaiming his love of corn with the caption “CORN KID IS HERE.” One day later, NBC’s Today covered Tariq and all the reasons he loves corn, bringing the trend to an even wider audience.
Over the next few weeks, the Corn Kid continued to capture the hearts of social media users and traditional media. Popular TikTok music producers The Gregory Brothers published an audio sample entitled “It’s Corn” to their TikTok account. Audiences across TikTok quickly embraced the music, racking up millions of likes and views over the span of the next 48 hours.
Content creators across TikTok used the audio in their videos. The trend was then broadcast again on The Today Show, this time highlighting the hit song as well. As a result of the audio, Corn Kid evolved into a cultural moment across Instagram and TikTok that people could participate in. It was a unifying force that brought people together.
From there, the trend exploded with celebrities, influencers, brands and even politicians participating in the Corn Kid cultural conversation over the following weeks. YouTuber MrBeast, musician Blake Shelton, actor Kevin Bacon, Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem and even the official TikTok account on Instagram are among the many who joined in on the fun.
Corn Kid has allowed brands to participate in the cultural conversation through creative imagery (i.e. memes) or audio (i.e. applying the “It’s Corn” sound to video). Brands such as AriZona Iced Tea rode the wave through a comedic lens by introducing a Corn Cocktail on Instagram. Within hours, this post became one of the most highly engaged posts for AriZona over the past 12 months.
United Airlines capitalized on the trend by integrating the “It’s Corn” audio into a storyboard slideshow of United’s flying experience. This was accomplished in a cute, funny and lighthearted manner. This strategy helped humanize United, and their quick response to the trend prompted Delta to create their own version the next day.
@united no offense to corn #Airplane #Aviation #AvGeek #UnitedAirlines #TravelTikTok #Corn #ItsCorn #fyp ♬ It's Corn - Tariq & The Gregory Brothers & Recess Therapy
Overall, the Corn Kid trend highlights several key areas of social media marketing. When participating in trends, it’s important for a brand to be authentic to its core audience, be fun and not salesy. Happy and uplifting trends are unifiers.
Second, audiences opt into content from digital shows, such as Recess Therapy, and these shows have earned their followers’ trust. Audio can be a tremendous catalyst to drive engagement for a trend. Over 600,000 creator videos have been synced to the “It’s Corn” audio thus far, and within days of launch, “It’s Corn” racked up over 1 million streams on Spotify.
Lastly, meme communities are powerful ways to drive awareness and ensure messaging shows up in millions of followers’ feeds. Most importantly for marketers, participating in culturally relevant trends provide brands an opportunity to be discovered by new fans and followers.
When participating in culturally relevant trends, here are a few final takeaways.
Keep it simple. Marketers should not complicate the moment. The phrase “It’s Corn” brought about millions of smiles, shares and likes. Brands capitalized on the moment by not over-engineering it, as seen in Adweek’s Marketing Morsels.
Expect the unexpected. Marketers should always be on the lookout for culturally relevant trends. These trends can emerge in the most unexpected places.
React promptly and intelligently. Participation in these trends must be thoughtful, authentic and timely. The content must align with a brand’s existing audience and not appear forced. Trust is earned over time and must be respected.
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