Pop Art-ifacts: Flossin' Ain't Easy


Each week, I break down a current or nostalgic piece of pop-culture to examine it, find it's origin how people are using it and how brand or marketers could integrate it into their story. 

The dance craze taking over the world, The Floss.  I've now seen this dance performed publicly in middle America from 5 to 50-year-olds, and any Giphy search would show you hundreds of examples from late-night TV to professional soccer matches.  So you may know what it is, but do you know where it came from and why it's so annoying to the MAN that it's being banned in middle schools?  WTF is up w/ the FLOSS????

The Floss is a perfect example of why I love Pop-Marketer™.  Once you dig a little deeper, this weird little dance move takes a few left turns and ends up in a mixing bowl of pop-culture deliciousness, so let's start from the beginning, shall we? 

Its origin comes from a 2013 fan-video that a middle school made for Katy Perry, but we'll pick it up in 2016 when a kid named Russell Horning better known as "Backpack Kid", posted himself doing the dance on his social channel and over the next year, gained 2 million followers for his serious expression and wild body movements.  In 2017, Katy Perry highlighted Russell on an Episode of SNL during her performance of "Swish Swish". Even though we can thank Ms. Perry for introducing the dance to the populous, it's not why this thing has caught fire in 2018.  For that, we enter the world of video game emotes and popular online video games like Destiny 2 and Fortnite. 


Both games feature this little dance as emotes on their games.  Emotes are dances or actions that players can have their avatars make whenever they're celebrating an epic headshot or just sitting around with players waiting for the game to begin. 

So what we're actually seeing is a physical manifestation of the popularity of these video games, not of music or TV culture, although the creator's of the games do get their inspiration there.

This is why Pop-Marketing™ is so damn fun. Game makers, steal popular dance moves from pop-culture, which in turn becomes refreshed pop-culture through these new platforms.  It's more evidence of the melting pot or cross-media of current pop-culture due to technology and more connected consumers.  

Other emotes are taken from TV shows like Fresh Prince of Bellaire (Fresh) and Scrubs (Basic Dance), Vine memes like Best Mates, or the one made famous after the finals World Cup match this weekend, the "Take the L" Emote taken from the 2017 remake of the Stephen King movie IT. 

If you are a marketer, wondering why you should care, then you probably won't get much from this blog. If you don't see it yet, video games have broken out of the fences of games and have become part of the larger picture.  Fortnite made over $300 million last month alone and has been designed to be a stadium sport.  That's only one game in a sea of the competitive game world, although it's been the one that's spread into the masses most quickly. Yesterday was the time to connect to gaming, but it's not too late. Those brands that saw this coming even a couple of years back are going to have giant advantages to the hundreds jumping in now. 

The Floss hits at one of my largest lessons as a pop-marketer.  Put on your researcher cap. Stop judging and start asking why and where and how. At the least, it will open up new avenues of inspiration for you as you explore your marketing calendar and 2019 planning, but it could easily lead to the heart of your idea. 

Until next time, keep on Flossin'. 




Joe Cox