The marketing spoof is one of the best and worst institutions in our industry.
Done well, it can result in one hilarious comedy skit after another. Take SNL's riff on Brad Pitt's Chanel ad, for example, or this clever spoof spawned by Dove's emotionally charged "Evolution" campaign. Even Apple's advertising has been parodied far and wide over the last decade -- so much so that this Mashable article chronicles the top 10 Apple ad memes of all time.
Done poorly, though, marketing spoofs can result in awkward laughter, uncomfortable silence, or even lawsuits. For instance, a temptation to hijack the success of Old Spice yielded this painful shower scene, while this doctor's attempt landed him in hot water with the legal team at Procter & Gamble.
Indeed, the internet has significantly reduced the barriers to entry for anyone with ambition to mock the marketing industry (and world at large). Nowhere are these barriers lower than for Twitter.
Below, we've outlined our top 10 parody Twitter accounts we think you should start following today, along with some shining examples of their tongue-in-cheek Twitter brilliance.
The 10 Best Parody Twitter Accounts
Pharrell was only on the Grammy Awards red carpet for minutes before an enterprising individual launched @Pharrellhat, an ode to the music mogul's Vivienne Westwood headgear for the evening. Roughly 19,000 Twitter followers and some GQ and Today Show coverage later, @Pharrellhat tweeted its way to significant mindshare and press coverage during the awards show.
An MTV poll even said @Pharrellhat was the ultimate Grammy winner, likely in part due to gems like this Toy Story-Beyonce mashup alongside a Sorting Hat Harry Potter reference:
Those in the Royal Family are among the most beloved Brits in the world, but the Queen of England is far better known for her leadership and smarts than for her sense of humor.
While the power trio of Prince William, Prince Harry, and Princess Kate have lightened up public appearances with dancing or informal banter (karaoke with Taylor Swift, anyone?), the Queen has remained steadfast in a traditional approach to interacting with her constituents.
This focus on the traditional provides the perfect springboard for Twitter mockery, some highlights of which are outlined below:
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's sweatshirt-loving CEO, is a social media guru, but not surprisingly, he focuses most of his personal brand and posts on his own social network. @NotZuckerberg, however, parodies Facebook's path to world domination with snarky comments about everything from earnings updates to product releases.
During the holidays, Not Mark Zuckerberg delivered a Facebook-themed rendition of "Baby It's Cold Outside" that included the following line: ♫ I really can't stay / (Enjoy our redesign) / Oh, but it's cold offline ♪. Not exactly a heart-warmer of holiday nostalgia, but it sure spices up a far-too-serious Twitter stream.
Is Central Sq. Pigeon the most popular parody Twitter account on the web? Certainly not ... but it's highly underrated.
Many have heard of common squirrel, a parody account that documents the daily life of a mid-sized rodent. However, I'd personally take Central Sq. Pigeon over common squirrel any day. It helps that Central Sq. Pigeon is run by HubSpot designer Tyler Littwin, but what wins the day from our perspective is the stunning insight into the inner workings of a city pigeon navigating the big bad world of Cambridge.
Here's a bird's-eye view (sorry) of what you can expect by following him:
The Onion is the unmatched master of sarcasm and spoofs, so it's little surprise that its sports-related Twitter account offers hysterical reflections on sporting events and celebrities of the day.
Most sports-oriented Twitter accounts ebb and flow on frequency and quality or require significant knowledge of the team or athlete involved. @OnionSports, though, runs the gamut, mocking avid fans and large sports culture events alike, making it the ideal sports parody account of choice to follow -- especially when the Super Bowl nears:
He Who Shall Not Be Named (of Harry Potter fame) is a force to be reckoned with at Hogwarts and in the Twitterverse. The Dark Lord account has amassed over 2.2 million followers thanks to its witty banter. Some highlights include Quidditch jokes during the Super Bowl and the Bieber commentary below.
Sure, there are some jokes that you have to be a Harry Potter fan to understand (Snape references are pervasive), but many of the tweets are funny with even a cursory knowledge of J.K. Rowling's books and the films they spawned (especially after a few swigs of butterbeer):
7) Chuck Norris
One of the world's most beloved action stars is not only a staple on the infomercial circuit, but he's also a Twitter gem for "Chuck facts" sure to delight any cocktail party or water cooler.
One of my favorite standouts includes "Love does not hurt. Chuck Norris does." It's hard to choose one favorite tweet, however, when this parody account offers wisdom ranging from coding jokes to "Only Chuck Norris can prevent forest fires."
While Willy Wonka's sarcasm in the movie based on Roald Dahl's beloved book is part of an elaborate ruse to identify an heir for his chocolate factory, on Twitter, his intentions are significantly more questionable.
Complete with the iconic image of Gene Wilder, Condescending Wonka doesn't relegate his humor to the candy industry, choosing instead to apply a sardonic lens to pretty much anything. Hardly sweet but always salty, this account is a true gem of the parody Twitter world:
Elon Musk's escapades as an entrepreneur and marketer are well documented. The PayPal veteran and Tesla executive is known for his visionary ideas, outlandish press conferences, and dynamic relationship with realism. From announcing a high-speed Hyperloop between San Francisco and Los Angeles, to a series of high-profile battles with journalists, Musk is long on vision and short on patience -- which makes him an ideal candidate for a parody Twitter account.
This absurd account is certainly worth a follow for its sketches, witty asides, and running commentary on all of the Valley's most overused buzzwords:
The Burlington Coat Factory is a retailer that sells coats (duh) at ridiculously low prices and boasts designer labels at bargain basement prices. The company's actual Twitter account has roughly 5,000 followers and offers a pretty consistent stream of sponsored events and giveaways.
Meanwhile, the Not Burlington Coats account offers a steady diet of Tweets that poke fun not just at Burlington, but also at how many retailers approach social media by drawing any and all conversations back to their core products.
The handle for this account has changed a few times (presumably due to legal discussions with Burlington's attorneys), but the sarcasm hasn't wavered a bit:
Around Thanksgiving, a prime time for retailers to attract share of consumers' minds and wallets, this account reminded us that trying too hard to fit your brand or product into every offering or holiday theme can come off as awkward and hysterical, as evidenced below:
Parody Twitter accounts offer a welcome break (and laugh) in the middle of a long day, but they also remind all of us who use social media regularly to have a sense of humor and think about what our customers, prospects, and leads actually want to see from us on a daily basis.
We hope you enjoyed our top 10 list! Who are some of your favorites that we missed?