My Promotional Culture! (ft. Caroline and Jerry)


VIDEO ASSIGNMENT – « #DontBuyTheSmile »


Irony is something I see more and more of on TikTok and Instagram. As part of the larger « post-irony » movement in art and entertainment, the more layers of sarcasm a piece of content has, the more it speaks to people’s heart. Some meme theorists actually define irony as the new language of the internet. This is not sourced. I made that up. But from my standpoint (and I watch a lot of memes), it is true.


Your Objectives. What are you hoping to achieve through this video? For example, comments, likes, shares, click-throughs, views, etc.

The skit format is an attempt to maximize engagement and likes. The satirical tone of the video aims to raise awareness about the dangers of « promotional culture » as defined by Andrew Wernick, as well as to be thought-provoking and to spark debate.


Target Audience. Who is the target audience for this video?

Most people don’t know about promotional culture and Andrew Wernick’s book. I personally didn’t before I started reading the required chapter – and boy, was that a tough read.

I personally like to laugh, and know other people do too. The best way to share Wernick’s message with the world, I figured, is to try integrating it into a funny story. If the story is slightly controversial, that’s even better. So I came up with the story of a mom, Caroline, who uses her kid as a literal promotional skin (« bait ») for her ice cream brand. 

I estimate the primary audiences for the skit are people from 18 years old with a taste for dark or absurd humor and the 90s homemade VHS aesthetic that the video utilizes. Similarly themed content encountered great internet success among Gen Z (examples include YouTube stars Caroline Konstar and Jack Pop). A partnership with such influencers could be envisioned in later episodes of the series to boost engagement.

The video depicts themes of parenthood and work ethics, which are common in adult life. Thus, a platform with a large adult user base like Facebook is ideal for posting. The skit could ideally be upload simultaneously to YouTube to reach a broader audience of teenagers and young adults who might not be present on Facebook.


Tactic. What is your communication and creative tactic to reach and engage this target audience?

Satirizing unnoticed child exploitation, the video could be posted on one of two commemorative days: the World Children’s Day (November 20) or the International Day for Protection of Children (June 1) in order to reach a larger public.

The video can be the first of a series, with each episode focusing on various aspects of promotional culture and reflecting  on the cynical ways marketing firms rationalize manipulation of the mob.

Hard-hitting themes of bad parenting, scamming, as well as the underlying child abuse, are effective attention grabbers. The obvious absurdity and irony of a parent using her child as a commercial tool creates an opportunity for engaging conflict and controversy — even more so if some people are left angry after watching.

The skit (or series) will be accompanied by a hashtag, #DontBuyTheSmile, which broadly encapsulates the excesses of promotional culture and forces the audience to reflect on their own consumer habits. To avoid the trap of promotional culture as depicted in the skit, the customer should indeed investigate the quality of the product itself and not fall for the beautiful packaging.


Goal. What are you trying to get your target audience to do or think?

The skit attempts to shed light and educate on the absurdity of contemporary advertising, where the product disappears completely behind its marketing. People should be left angry by that newfound knowledge; the « call to action » element would therefore be a more critical mindset when it comes to advertisement, with a heightened awareness of the dangers of cynical marketing.

I believe audiences will not take the skit literally, as it is a purely fictional and ironic situation, with a very « rough » aesthetic, as well as repeated and obvious hints that the mother is a bad person. I can’t speak for the internet, but as far as I’m concerned, it is all fun and games. Also, it worked for Dissolve, and they literally attacked the very people watching their ad!


Evaluation Metrics. How will you measure the effectiveness of this video? For example, how many comments, likes, or shares etc.

I expect people who like the video to share it with friends. Some might also comment, especially if the video angers them, which might help to evaluate whether these audiences are touchy for later campaigns, and set a precedent for later students!

I would consider the upload a success if it manages to reach Facebook averages of other UQ-made videos. That is, about 1 like for every 33 view (or a weighted average of about 110,4 likes and 3682 views per video post).

It is to be noted that only one student assignment has been posted on the Facebook page in the past year. Said assignment gathered 46 likes. Breaking this record might be considered a better indication of campaign success. But let’s aim for the stars! 



M. Wendy. (2018, November 2). Satire and Sarcasm: They Both Have Their Advantages. WriterAccess.


Gilliland, N. (2018, March 13). How brands have used satire in advertising. Econsultancy.