4 Brands That Have Mastered The Tricky Art Of Trolling

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketing

Trolling has taken over marketing as brands rile up fans and longtime rivals. Here are 4 that are (mostly) doing it right…

The generations that grew up scrolling social media and online forums appreciate a clever, or just silly, troll in their feed. One Urban Dictionary entry defines trolling as “trying to get a rise out of someone…either through wise-crackery, posting incorrect information, asking blatantly stupid questions, or other foolishness.” The act is no longer restricted to Reddit forums, and has become an inherent part of internet culture. Remember when the viral Instagram egg (which is still slowly cracking) paved its way to internet fame by trolling Kylie Jenner’s most-liked Instagram post with comments of egg emojis? Brands have not only caught on, but they’re perfecting the trend by putting big budgets behind their takedowns of rival brands and executing the action in larger-than-life ways that go beyond a screen.

A caveat: trolling is not a marketing tactic for the faint of heart. Crowdspring explains that controversial content goes viral by riling up the internet and can be misunderstood or ignored. The attempt could even backfire and incite more negativity than wanted if followers don’t realize that it’s all in good fun, and Campaign US questions if the strategy is even “worth the risk.”

But, when done right, a playful poke at a rival online can earn a brand the kind of buzz that takes them viral, cements them in the minds of young users, and rallies the entire internet around them. With that in mind, here are X companies that have (mostly) mastered the tricky art of trolling:

Millennial research, Millennial insight, Millennial marketing, Gen Z research, Gen Z marketing, Gen Z insight, youth research, youth marketingWendy’s

Trolling has become a norm in the fast food industry, where savage social media tweets are fired off between rivals, sometimes spiraling into entire campaigns. Wendy’s dropped an…


Want to talk to us about the article
or dive into a custom study?

The Newsfeed

Quote of the Day: “Most social media is an echo-chamber for immaturity.”—Male, 30, MD

Violent video games don’t cause violent behavior, according to “one of the most definitive [studies] to date.” At a time when several states are considering tacking on extra taxes to violent video games, the Oxford Internet Institute’s study found that playing content considered violent did not cause 14-15-year-olds in the U.K. to act more aggressively. The study’s co-author says that previous studies have been influenced by “researcher biases” that led to studies that gave “undue weight to the moral panic surrounding video games.” (GamesIndustry.biz)

A new rosé brand is winning over Millennials with its Instagrammable bottle. The Wonderful Company, known for brands like Fiji Water and Pistachios, brought a new wine brand to market just in time for Valentine’s Day—and it’s already outselling their other labels. JNSQ (an acronym for the French phrase “je ne sais quoi”) sells rosé and sauvignon blanc that come in glass containers designed to look like retro perfume bottles. Influencers and a national marketing campaign helped propel the brand. (Adweek)

Minecraft for mobile made more money than ever in 2018. According to Sensor Tower, the gaming sensation’s mobile version raked in $110 million last year, rising 7% from last year. In addition, 48% of that revenue came from the U.S., followed by just 6.6% from Great Britain. All eyes may be on Fortnite, but the Minecraft Effect still has a hold on young gamers, and Gen Z & Millennials still rank the game as one of their favorites. (Venture Beat)

Nostalgic Millennials can soon set sail on a Golden Girls-themed cruise. The experiential, adults-only cruise will include themed activities like a “One Night in St. Olaf Dance Party,” a game of Ugel and Flugel, and a costume contest for fans dressed up as the main characters. There will also be plenty of trivia, bingo, and cheesecake on this five-night experience aboard the Celebrity Infinity. This isn’t the only cruise ship catering to adults recently; Virgin’s first cruise ship is 18-and-up-only and even has a tattoo parlor on board. (People)

Daquan, the meme account with 12 million followers, is teaming up with All Def Media for a slate of original content. The premium videos will signal a departure from what Daquan is known for: gritty, homemade content that ranges like blurry SpongeBob SquarePants screenshots transformed into memes via clever captions. The new videos will debut across All Def Media and Daquan’s social channels, which include Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, IGTV, and YouTube. (Tubefilter)

Quote of the Day: “I think social media can bring light to issues that are of importance such as animal rescue and environmental awareness.”—Female, 22, MI

Sign Up Now

Subscribe for premium access to our content, data, and tools.

Already a subscriber? Sign in.

Upgrade Now

Upgrade for full access to the best marketing tools for understanding the next generation.

View our Client Case Studies