GoldieBlox Viral Video Harms Own Brand
If you’re in the marketing world, you’ve probably heard about the launch video for Kickstarter-funded GoldieBlox – a company that makes toys for girls who want to be engineers. The original spot went viral with over 8 million views and was chosen by Upworthy as one of three finalists to win a $4mil Super Bowl media slot. It’s a marketer’s dream come true, right? Except that the spot pirates the music from the Beastie Boys’ “Girls,” modifiying the ironic lyrics into more positive messaging to inspire girls to “code apps” and do more non-girly things. That would all be great messaging if it didn’t come at the cost of trying to cheat the system! Stealing someone else’s property to promote yourself is never ok. It seems especially wrong to have done this to the Beastie Boys, whose Adam “MCA” Yauch died last year and left a highly publicized will forbidding the group’s music from EVER being used in advertising.
It’s a real shame that the GoldieBlox brand is starting off this way. The idea behind what they are creating – toys to foster the engineering minds of young girls – is fantastic. Now, however, their brand is inextricably linked with doing the wrong thing…and it may suggest to some that this is an acceptable way for girls to act in order to get ahead. It is not. While the catchy video shows girls engineering a cool Rube Goldberg-type contraption, there is nothing complex about the fact that GoldieBox broke the rules in an unacceptable way. They may have profited from the PR exposure in terms of awareness of their start-up, but what will people be thinking of a company founded on such shaky ethics?
In the immortal words of the Beasties: Listen all of y’all it’s a sabotage!
I’m happy to see the original “Princess Machine” video has now been replaced with the one below (ie, removing the Beastie Boys’ music) – which is still a good video. Would it have broken through the YouTube clutter without the hook of the Beasties’ song that is easily recognizable to the moms this video is aimed at? Unlikely. Again, that end does not justify the means. Find another way to stand out, GoldieBlox – a “right” way that girls, their moms and your brand can be proud of.