The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Fine Line Between Entrepreneur And Parasites …

By now, everyone will have heard about Squid Game.

It is – if not already – Netflix’s most watched show.


There’s many planners who are writing ‘thought pieces’ on why this happened … but at the heart of it, it’s a greatly entertaining – and incredibly dark – story, with brilliant production values topped off with fantastic characters and acting.

Over the past few weeks, there’s been all manner of news stories coming out about the impact the show has had on broader culture … from sales of white, slip-on Vans – that feature in the show – going up 7800% right through to their instagram going up from 410,000 to 16 million in a matter of weeks.

That said, my favourite ‘proof of impact’ is this insta from one of the stars on the show:

But none of this is the point of this post, the point is related to the picture at the top of this post.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve just been seeing more and more brands – and agencies, specifically TBWA – exploiting the success of Squid Game for their own benefit.

Worse, the vast majority of these brands and agencies have absolutely nothing to do with the show – or Netflix – whatsoever.

Now I shouldn’t be surprised … this sort of thing has been going on for donkey’s years. However, whereas once ‘hijacking’ was a new and exciting way to get ahead of the pack and drive awareness and attention … this approach has now become so expected that any element of ‘surprise’ has gone.

In fact, the overall impact of this act is either seen as desperate or just ignored.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

If people are willing to forgo their laziness for a second, they can look for ways where what they are ‘borrowing’ adds to the culture of the community rather than just stealing from it.

Better yet, they could collaborate with the people who actually created the idea and make something even bigger for culture to enjoy.

But that rarely happens because we live in an industry where speed is seen as being better than substance and stealing is viewed as being more valuable than building … and while there are short-term ‘benefits’ to that approach, all it does is continue to destroy the value of creativity … which is ironic, given all of these approaches are feeding off the power, value and influence of it.

There’s a saying that says ‘genius steals’.

While I know where it came from and what they were trying to say with it … it’s obvious that term is no longer valid.

Lazy pricks, steal.

While finding ways to help our work – and our clients needs – will always be important, if we want to be taken seriously, let’s be the creators, not the parasites..

19 Comments so far
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👏🏽 👏🏽 👏🏽

Comment by Bazza

This -> “we live in an industry where speed is seen as being better than substance and stealing is viewed as being more valuable than building.”

Well said Rob.

Comment by Pete

What makes me laugh is how if a Chinese brand was doing this – they’d all be piling on saying how disgusting it is and how they are not appreciating copyright and should be stopped.

I’m not saying China hasn’t had/got issues with this sort of thing, I’m simply saying it’s not just them who has it.

Comment by Rob

As proven by the way the WTA dealt with the Peng Shuai situation.

Comment by Pete

Also “lazy pricks steal” is the quote of the year.

Comment by Pete

You need to get out more, but thanks. Hahaha.

Comment by Rob

I love your point about hijacking. I once worked with an old account director who told me that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. At the time he was regarded as out of touch when he was absolutely right. Hijacking culture is often a sign of a brand that has little to say but desperate to be noticed. And what on earth were TBWA thinking?

Comment by George

I don’t know.

Maybe they did have something to do with it … but if they did. you’d think they’d talk about that rather than just ‘borrow’ the symbolism from the show for their own use.

I should also say some brands hijack culture in the right way for the right reasons. They have a long history of being part of culture and use the platform and their brand to drive change.

And while everyone has to start from somewhere, using COVID to sell your antiseptic cream ‘to help the world get back to normal’ is not going to do it.

Comment by Rob

I adore Heosungtae’s instagram message.

Comment by George

Yep. It’s gold.

Comment by Rob

Am I wrong in thinking he’s not talking about money?

Comment by John

Oh … I assumed he was. What do you think he’s talking about?

Comment by Rob

Having just passed a million Insta followers?

Comment by John

The creator of the show has explained that he hasn’t made any more money because of the size of the Netflix viewing figures, so I assume the actors haven’t either. Even if their future earning potential will obviously have improved.

Comment by John

I thought squid games was shit.

Comment by Billy Whizz

That’s because you think TJ Hooker is still the best show ever made.

Comment by Rob

Says the queen groupy.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Billy got you Rob.

Comment by Bazza

i know dead pensioners with more contemporary references than you sad fucks.

Comment by andy@cynic

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