How MC Hammer went from caricature to human being–the social media story

Please Hammer, don’t hurt me.Hammer then

But you know more than anyone that you went from A-lister to punchline sometime in the early 1990s. Your very public bankruptcy only made it worse. You were Vanilla Ice, just with more than one hit.

Something unusual has happened in the last couple of years, however. There’s a growing undercurrent of respect for you, and social media marketing is part of the reason for that.

If you don’t know MC Hammer’s social media presence, consider this:

How he did this is a very simple lesson for corporate marketers.Hammer now

  • He showed he was in on the joke. That he wore those pants, made a pile and spent it all is not news to him. See his 2005 Nationwide ad, his 2005 Lay’s potato chips spot, and his 2009 Cash4Gold Super Bowl ad. He gets it, and that makes him likeable. Vanilla Ice got all bitter, so he fell into the surreal.
  • He’s human. People were surprised when MC Hammer started showing up online, but they gave him a chance and found out he’s a real guy trying to make it through the day. It’s easy to make fun of a caricature, but hard to pick on a real guy. The lesson for corporations in this should not be lost.
  • Turns out, he’s a businessman. This is the Suzanne Sommers analogy. She went from blond ditz to respected businesswoman through the lowly ThighMaster. Hammer’s doing the same through DanceJam and other ventures. People admire that he went from losing his shirt to building a business.

Marketing has changed. Hammer’s got it figured out before most of corporate America. Here are the specific lessons for brand marketers trying to learn social media marketing:

  • We want to be able to talk to people at companies and get real answers. We don’t want PR-speak..
  • It’s hard to dislike a group of people. It’s easy to dislike a brand.
  • You’re not who your advertising says you are. You’re who WE say you are.

Interesting how, 17 years later, people are starting to think maybe Hammer really is too legit to quit… (sorry… couldn’t resist.)

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