Squid Game & Marketing: A Perfect Duo

Squid Game was released by Netflix on Sept. 17, 2021. The series quickly became the most watched show of all time. The popularity was so remarkable that global brands embraced different versions of Squid Game in branding within their social media posts.

Squid Game & Marketing: A Perfect Duo

I usually spend my weekends’ binge-watching shows on Netflix – some good, some not so much. Speaking of, Squid Game has become a new sensation for TV lovers. At first, I ignored it but when I heard people talking about it like crazy on social media I realized its’ virality. There was no way in hell I was gonna miss this South Korean survival drama for the world.

Even though ‘K-thing’ is not my thing yet I decided to watch Squid Game anyway because of all the hype. Fortunately, I did not watch the show merely for entertainment. Being a marketing person – I think there are so many valuable lessons that you can infer for generating a creative uproar around your brand. 

Having said that, Squid Game is the embodiment of how important word-of-mouth is for marketing and advertising. At first, it was set in stone that I wasn’t going to watch the show, no matter what happens. Even if the world turned upside down. But the word ‘Squid game’ gravitated with a gigantic wave on social media that someone like me had to change her mind instantly.

squid game memes

My network and most immediate inner circle could not stop drooling over it. My Twitter was flooded with tweets, even Linked-in was posting about how Squid Game is the number 1 series in the universe. Oh, memes and the memes went through the roof with a gush. Now all this was very triggering as I felt like the only human being left on earth who hadn’t checked it out. 

All this hype almost coerces you to watch so that you can too become a part of a bigger community and be able to participate in debates without feeling left out. Squid Game stacked up all the success through word of mouth overnight. No costly campaigns, no marketing budget was thrown away – when literally the word of mouth was the only eloquent trick.

Squid game - word of mouth

Retailers and eCommerce platforms did not stay behind in the race of ‘who makes the best Squid Game inspired tracksuits?’ If we recall and rewind a few days, many people dressed up as ‘red light, green light’ doll from the show or in pink-man suits on Halloween. Thus, the demand for Squid Game-themed outfits was skyrocketed. Biggest platforms like Amazon piled up masks and tracksuits worn by the players and the guards. Surprisingly, Netflix launched its own line of Squid Game merchandise. Now if it isn’t influential, I don’t know what is. 

squid game dalgona

That being said, Dalgona honeycomb candy caught everyone’s attention too. We could see many brands leveraging Squid Game to nail their digital brand campaigns. Brands such as Dominoes, Pepsi et al. created different versions of Squid Game in branding within their social media posts. Squid Game has become a fashion statement for brands and a cultural phenomenon so to speak. 

When we think about inclusivity, a high-stakes survival game where failure could be catastrophic might be the last thing that comes to most people’s minds, but the Netflix hit Squid Game subverts those expectations and delivers just that. As part of the main cast, we are greeted with characters from some diverse parts such as Pakistan and North, South Korea. For example, Ali, a shy, down on his luck Pakistani just trying to get by and do right by his family. Unlike how it would be in most other media, Ali is not shown to be a hateful or in any way malicious character, in a way he represents what most foreign residents have to go through when they move to a new country. His morals are put on display as he risks his life for his friends and family.

It’s refreshing to see characters portrayed in a way that highlights cultural values.

My point is, viewers can relate and connect with Squid Game’s characters on a much deeper level without any bias based on ethnicity or background. Similarly, if your marketing campaigns are not inclusive, you may lose on the most valuable chunk of your target audience without even realizing it. Plus brands are not selling products, they sell emotions and emotions, on the other hand, are all-inclusive despite the milieu or a customer’s background. Hence inclusivity is the most valuable lesson that we can all learn from the series. 

Without any exaggeration, the show also took Tiktok by storm. According to studies, TikTok currently has about 700 million active users per month, which makes it one of the top 5 most popular social media platforms, you know about the rest! We can see a whole army of Tiktokers/ brands making oodles of viral content for awareness and entertainment. Now, these jokes and content can play a huge role in your marketing strategy because people love jokes that they can relate to, that are specific and unique.

Considering the success of Squid Game all over the world and how brands are playing their trump cards – is absolutely amazing to watch. This makes me wonder, what’s next after Squid Game fever ends?