Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

Negative Brand Hijack Hall of Fame Inductee: Bruno Ganz in Downfall

In Insight on October 27, 2008 at 10:39 am

Great piece by Virginia Heffernan in the NY Times magazine yesterday on the Hitler Lost Cause Meme. People have been taking a scene from the 2004 German film, “Downfall” the story of Hitler’s last days and tweaking it, often with hilarious results. Here’s one titled Hitler Plans Burning Man (German with English subtitles, but still, NSFW):

A good article worth a read, and you should check out some of the other YouTube clips as well.  But what gets little mention is what this means to the actor, Bruno Ganz. Ganz has been a successful and well respected actor in Europe for decades. But for many in the English-speaking world (and there are non-English spoofs as well), he is just the crazy Hitler flying into a rage over Brett Favre.

More than likely he doesn’t care about this, but what if your serious efforts are turned into a ridiculous Internet joke? I’m not talking about Tay Zonday, Chocolate Rain-serious. I mean serious-serious. It’s hard to know what to do in a situation like that, but some immediate reactions might not be the best choices:

1. Completely ignore it – Now you’re letting the marketplace define you. Once the meme overwhelms the original, it’s hard to get it back.

2. Get even more serious – By coming out with a statement condemning the comedy appropriation you merely look like someone without a sense of humor, a sure-fire approach to receiving scorn and further humiliation.

3. Get even more funny – Don’t try the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach either. Chances are slim you’ll be as funny as what’s out there, so you’ll just look clueless.

The best thing you can do is accept it, give a nod to the comdedians and work hard at giving people something different and crucially, more remarkable, to talk about.

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