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Stop. Freeze. It’s eight&four’s take on #TheMannequinChallenge craze

25th November 2016 | Jane Bond

First it was planking in obscure locations, then it was nominating friends and family to pour ice water over your head, then females around the world shared their barefaced selfies, AND NOW The Mannequin Challenge is taking over the web. Here at eight&four we’re down with a bit of light-hearted fun, and love our daily morning mannequin fix, but what is it about this craze that has gripped the digital world?

In contrast to previous viral vogues, The Mannequin Challenge doesn’t have a real purpose or objective – i.e. it isn’t related to a charity or fundraising opportunity. This openness of the craze therefore means that brands, organisations and indeed individuals can jump on the trend for their own benefit (and often, simply to join in the fun!) without being concerned about causing offense or diverting the cause of content.

Step forward, Hillary Clinton. Using the optimal trending time, she created a video coinciding with American Election Day, enlisting her campaign team (and Bon Jovi!) to spread the message of “Don’t stand still. Vote today.” The videos virality highlighted the importance of jumping on these trends at peak times, and indeed the powerful combination of two trending conversations merged in one piece of content.

In another take on the trend, West Yorkshire Police produced a shock-factor mannequin challenge to highlight the dangers of texting whilst driving. Once again, as the trend isn’t linked with a particular message or objective, the force were able to use the craze to promote their own vital message, in an interesting and gripping content format. The perfect example of utilising a viral trend to convey an important message.

But what does this mean for brands? Well once again, with such a broad, open trend, we have seen that this initial teenage humorous phenomenon has (as usual) turned to the hands of advertising to sell, sell, sell.

We have seen a number of brands produce some creative takes on the trend; a few of our favourites are listed below;

  • Virgin Atlantic produced a particularly impressive tour of one of their planes (including some mid-air champagne!)
  • Sprite encouraged UGC and engagement by requesting their audience create a mannequin challenge on their behalf
  • Shopify took it to another level by producing their own VR mannequins, to promote their VR app Thread Studio

Evidentially, there isn’t a formula for getting it right – there are vast ranges of takes on the trend. However, there certainly appears to be some points to consider before taking on the challenge;

  1. Creativity is key – think outside the box and stand out from the crowd
  2. Timing is everything – a trend doesn’t stay viral for long!
  3. Decide on your message and make it as clear as possible – give your take on the trend a purpose

So there you have it, there is no promise that brand content can go viral, but when trends such as #TheMannequinChallenge come along, they present a ready-made platform for brands to get involved in. The only question then is, how will you stand out from the crowd…?