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Cringe Content: Marketing’s Guilty Pleasure

The internet for most part is a fascinating place to say the least and at the end of the day, everyone unwinds by indulging in mind-numbing gifs, videos and memes. What makes this daily dose of memebarding a dopamine reward is what everyone refers to as “reptiles of the internet.” I’m sure that on hearing that this is one of the first things that comes to mind.

As much as we hate to admit it, cringe content is some of the most satisfying things to watch. Several reasons make cringe content such great internet fodder, but one of the main reasons we think it works is because everyone on the internet is a secret cringe forager. IT’S SO BAD THAT IT’S GOOD, and that’s a fact.

But WHY ON EARTH does cringe work? What makes it such a good marketing tool and could this be right for your brand? The short answer is YES! As marketing professionals, our job is to be mind readers of society and give them what they want before they ask for it. (Almost like Lord Puneet) 

Cringe content works because 

#1 it takes less than 2 brain cells to understand 

#2 It’s extremely snackable content sprinkled with crack

 #3 It gives us all an ego boost. (because at least YOU aren’t THAT cringey) 

This is great news for marketing because we get to milk it to the max. It has the same impact even after going seemingly obsolete. Cringe allows bigger brands to stay relevant in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. It also helps a brand to showcase how “trendy” they are. 

Cringe content marketing is one of the ways you can ride the trend wave while keeping the brand language light. It is also a brilliant way to blatantly insert product placements without even trying too much.  For example: Swiggy Got The Butterflies. The recent primary school rhyme that went viral, has all the right ingredients to make your brand go viral as well and rather unmistakably Swiggy took its shot by adding their secret social media spice and voila! A viral trend done right. 

While Swiggy kept it cute, Duolingo, on the other hand, thrives off chaos, We can bet that the job description to be on the Duolingo social media team includes dark humour and being a menace to society as one of the top two qualities they look for (in our defence who doesn’t love a little bit of chaos? We most certainly dig it) Duolingo in their most recent post did a call back to a cringe trend of the late 90’s Bollywood movies (exhibit 2) The bird looks terrifying and tying in the kidnapper jingle with the hot psychotic girl energy is the hilarious yet cringey omni van callback caption. 

Another brand that somehow always nails the trends is Durex. They keep it classy even when it's cringe, while also always promoting their products and driving back home the idea of safe sex.(exhibit 3

These are just some of the retail brands that have used cringe marketing from time to time to stay relevant but EVERYONE does it, from doctors to chefs, celebrities to grandparents everyone’s doing it. Cringe content is also a great tool for personal branding, there is something about your favourite celeb or brand doing something they know is silly, just to be bard of a trend. It makes them relatable and not just symbols or figures on a pedestal. Even the most cringeworthy content has a space on the internet and by extension the hearts of the audience.

All of this information then begs the question: how cringey is too cringey?

If you take a look at the Poonam Pandey fiasco you would admit that someday it will make a good marketing case study (someday) It was a great way to start an urgent conversation on the topic of cervical cancer and we are sure the agency that came up with this did expect a fair amount of backlash, this could be what the boomers call a calculated risk. This campaign did have the desired effect while also bringing to the forefront some very interesting character traits about Poonam as a brand. Getting back to the question on hand, it doesn’t matter how cringe the content is as long as it is in some way relevant to the brand and the thought they wish to communicate to their audiences. This way even if there is a backlash or if it fails, you still might get viral (even if it's not the kind of viral you want) because at the end of the day “bad publicity” is a myth. 

Therefore whether you LOATHE it or LOVE it, the fact is you can not escape it. Cringe content marketing is here to stay even if the level of cringe keeps changing. So to whoever has taken the time to read through this blog and has reached the end of it, our only advice to audience and marketer alike would be to embrace it, that is the only way it will not completely consume you, warna moye-moye ho jayega. 


Psst! This blog was made with 💛 and created after some thought by a real person. #NoGenerativeAI


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