Q&A: Darryl Chua on the Rewards and the Risks of Trendjacking for Brands

Chua is Marketing Director at foodpanda Singapore.

Trendjacking has become an increasingly popular tactic used by brands to hitch a ride on the buzz of what’s popular.  If done well, trendjacking can do a lot for a brand’s image by making it more relatable, trendy, and even fostering brand love. The downside however is if the brand comes off as trying too hard, it can backfire and negatively affect its image.

To learn more about trend jacking we recently spoke with Darryl Chua, Marketing Director at foodpanda Singapore.

Over the course of our conversation, Chua talks about foodpanda’s successful trendjacking of Taylor Swift Eras Tour in Singapore,  the rewards, and the risks, of trendjacking, incorporating real-world activations into the strategy, one of his favorite trendjacks, and more.


 

Can you give us a brief introduction to trendjacking and its history?

Trendjacking became more prevalent in the late 2000s after Twitter introduced the hashtag feature which enabled users to easily find topics they were interested in.

Since then, trendjacking has become a commonplace marketing strategy where brands insert themselves in conversations surrounding a particular trend, by either responding or interacting with it.

When a trend becomes talk of the town, being able to ride the wave in a timely and relevant manner can do wonders for brand exposure and reputation. However, if done incorrectly or a brand comes off as trying too hard, it can backfire and negatively affect brand image instead.

How can brands balance staying true to their brand identity while also tapping into relevant cultural trends through trendjacking? And what are the risks?

To successfully trendjack, brands will need to have a thorough understanding of their target audience. This will help determine if the trend is one that their customers can relate with.


 

Brands should also assess if said trend is in line with the brand personality – jumping on a trend for the sake of being trendy can come across as confusing or worse, cringy, and can massively backfire if the content is not true to the kind of content that the brand is known for.

“Jumping on a trend for the sake of being trendy can come across as confusing or worse, cringy, and can massively backfire if the content is not true to the kind of content that the brand is known for.”

What were the key factors that enabled foodpanda to successfully trendjack the Taylor Swift Eras Tour in Singapore? What were some of the challenges?

Speed is of the essence when it comes to trendjacking, and our teams constantly have their fingers on the pulse of upcoming and latest trends that we can potentially ride on. Having a fully in-house social media team enabled the team to quickly conceptualise, produce, and publish content to maximise visibility.

The team is also provided with a high level of autonomy to produce content as long as it is authentic to our brand voice. This allows them to unleash their creative prowess and plan content quickly so that we can take advantage of the trend while it is still popular.

@foodpandasg

mother is here 🥹💜💖✨ #erastoursg #taylorswift #erastoursingapore #erastour #swiftie

♬ original sound – foodpandasg – foodpandasg

In this case, it definitely helped that we also have Swifties on the team, which resulted in more authentic Taylor Swift-related content! The constant challenge with any trendjacking piece is to ensure that we are riding on the trend in a way that sensibly incorporates the brand tone and personality.

We decided to have our brand ambassador, Pau-Pau, be the character that connects the foodpanda brand to the Taylor Swift-related content, as he is a mainstay character in foodpanda’s social content and featuring him would retain coherence between our usual content and those that are trendjacking in nature.

How did foodpanda’s in-house social media team approach creating content around the Taylor Swift Eras Tour, and what made it resonate?

Our social media team is made up of digital native individuals who are also Swifties themselves – which allows them to create content that will resonate with other Swifties. The team kept a close eye on related content that was published about the Eras Tour as it happened in other countries, which provided inspiration for the content that we could eventually produce here.

“The end result was varied content that would be relevant for both fans and non-fans of Taylor Swift, including references to experiences that were very Swiftie-specific…”

The end result was varied content that would be relevant for both fans and non-fans of Taylor Swift, including references to experiences that were very Swiftie-specific; such as exchanging friendship bracelets. There was also content that was intended for the general public who were aware of Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour, but not necessarily a fan – such as our colleagues participating in trivia to differentiate Taylor Swift song names to scented candle names.

@foodpandasg

real swifties should know these all too well 🕯️🎵😮‍💨 in our *$1.99 delivery fee* era or whatever ykwim #taylorswift #erastoursingapore #erastoursg #erastour #swiftie

♬ original sound – foodpandasg – foodpandasg

These pieces of content definitely resonated well with our target audience – with a couple of our Taylor Swift trendjacking content going viral with over 200K organic views on TikTok, with over 20K engagement.

In what ways can brands extend trendjacking beyond just social media content, as foodpanda did with their real-world activations for the Taylor Swift Eras Tour?

A keen understanding of the audience and their lived experiences are extremely key as we strategise activations to engage them. Brands can then identify fitting moments where their brand can enhance their customers’ experiences – while still adhering to the principles of being timely and authentic.

“In this case, we observed that concertgoers were queueing overnight to purchase tickets, and we saw an opportunity to make their experience better by providing them with food.”

In this case, we observed that concertgoers were queueing overnight to purchase tickets, and we saw an opportunity to make their experience better by providing them with food. We also knew that typically, concertgoers would fuel up before heading down to the concert, and that the National Stadium could get quite hot given the masses of people that are at the venue. We decided to hand out handheld fans to help them cool down, which also helps to increase our brand visibility at the concert.

What are some of your favorite trendjacks by brands in recent years?

I thought that IKEA’s take on the Balenciaga Towel Skirt ticked all the boxes in terms of a successful trendjack attempt. It was very in line with their brand personality, the content was published timely and it was also very much aligned with their product offerings.

 

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Quick hits

Book everyone in the industry should read: “Predictably Irrational” by Dan Ariely
Favorite show you’ve been watching lately: The Gentlemen
One album you would take to a deserted island: “The Colour and The Shape” by Foo Fighters
Something you want to learn or wish you were better at: Drawing / Sketching

 

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