Quiznos ignited headlines with its Burning Man parody video. So why the Quiznos parody is getting so many views, likes, comments, and shares?
If you haven’t seen “Burn Trials — Out of the Maze and onto the Playa” yet, spend 2 minutes and 45 seconds to watch it now. As the description of the latest Toasty.TV original parody reveals, “What happens when you send the characters from The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials to an overcrowded music festival in the desert? You’ll have to witness it for yourself. Things will get toasty on The Playa. Welcome to the #BurnTrials!”
Now, according to an article by Georgia Wells in The Wall Street Journal’s Digits Blog, “Now the Burning Man organization wants Quiznos to remove the images of the burning wooden man-shaped sculpture and hippie city, among other items.” In the article, Burning Man senior adviser Jim Graham is quoted as saying, “People at our office thought the video was clever and funny, but they used our intellectual property to sell something.”
He also noted that Burning Man is not threatening to sue Quiznos, contrary to some media reports. The two organizations are now in discussions. According to Wells, “Quiznos didn’t respond to questions about the kerfuffle.”
Since it is entirely possible that your brand may be parodied someday, this is a kerfuffle that you will want to monitor closely. Here’s some additional information that is worth knowing.
Measuring Quiznos’ Success
“Burn Trials” was uploaded Sept. 8 and already has more than 2.1 million views. It has received 2,769 Likes and 302 Dislikes.
If you look at the video statistics for “Burn Trials,” you’ll see that time watched is 7 years. It’s driven 106 subscriptions to the Quiznos Toaster channel, Toasty.TV, on YouTube. And the video has been shared to social media 3,680 times.
It has 469 comments. Here are half a dozen of the top comments to give you an idea of what viewers think about the video:
- “This was great. Can’t believe it came from a Corporate social media account.”
- “This was the most epic commercial ever.”
- “I hate Burning Man and a sandwich commercial just encompassed all the reasons why.”
- “If Burning Man hates ‘commodification’ so much that it’s willing to sue Quiznos over it for making this parody, why do tickets to the festival cost $400?”
- “Best parody ever. ‘You wouldn’t last one day out in the scorch.’”
- “I’ve been to Burning Man 8 times and this is one of the best things I’ve seen. It’s trumped only by the episode where Malcolm in the Middle goes to Burning Man. Check that out if you like this.”
In addition, “Burn Trials” has done wonders for the Quiznos Toaster channel on YouTube. According to Tubular Labs, the Growth Graphs of the Quiznos Toaster started to rocket upwards on September 9, the day after “Burn Trials” was published.
Why Video Is A Key Element of Quiznos’ Content Strategy
Quiznos has made video content a big part of its strategy to reach its core audience: men from their teens to their 30s, according to Tim Kraus, director of interactive and innovation at Quiznos.
“We want to make sure wherever our audience is going, that’s where we have to go,” Kraus told Enterpreneur. “So if they switch to consuming video content on their mobile device, or their tablet or their desktop computer, that’s where we have to be as a brand.”
Toasty.TV has been a large part of Quiznos’ content marketing strategy since 2014. Aside from YouTube engagement, their efforts appear to be driving people to search for information about store locations, especially around the launch of their videos.
“We knew we were taking a risk as a brand, we knew we were shifting dollars away from TV into digital and we’ve been tremendously happy with the risk that we took,” Chris Ruszkowski, Quiznos’ VP of marketing, told AdWeek. “The response has been great. Millennials follow, like, subscribe and share and we wanted to be part of that conversation, and doing content like this allows us to be part of that conversation.”
Quiznos Has A Flare For Parody
At the end of “Burn Trials” are a couple of end cards (a.k.a., end slates) that encourage viewers to watch more videos.
The first is “The Waze Runner | A #ToastyTV Parody @Quiznos.” Published Sept. 15, 2014, it has almost 955,000 views. As its description explains, “Inspired by the navigation app that lets you outsmart traffic, and the upcoming Maze Runner movie, THE WAZE RUNNER tells the story of teenagers trying to navigate a killer maze, with Waze.”
The second takes viewers to “STARTOURAGE: The Foursome Awakens | Quiznos | Toasty.tv.” Published April 16, it has more than 1.4 million views. As its description explains, “See what happens when Hollywood’s most famous fake movie star directs a new episode for the galaxy’s most beloved franchise of all time. Presenting StarTourage, a new intergalactic spoof from the toasty minds at Quiznos. May The Farce Be With You. #Startourage #ToastyTV #Quiznos.”
You don’t need to be a lawyer to recognize all three of these videos are parodies.
Although I’m not a lawyer, I’m not a potted plant, either. So, here’s what we know about parody:
Although a parody can be considered a derivative work under United States Copyright Law, it can be protected from claims by the copyright owner of the original work under the fair use doctrine, which is codified in Title 17 of the United States Code § 107. The Supreme Court of the United States stated that parody “is the use of some elements of a prior author’s composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on that author’s works”. That commentary function provides some justification for use of the older work.
So, it doesn’t hurt for Burning Man to ask Quiznos to remove the images of the burning wooden man-shaped sculpture and hippie city, among other items. But, the Quiznos parody appears to be protected under the fair use doctrine – particularly because “Burn Trials” is a commentary.
As the main character observes, “They lied to us. They said it was an anti-establishment society based on self-expression, but it’s become a place for rich people to check off their bucket list.”
That’s why the Quiznos parody is getting so many views, likes, comments, and shares. Viewers agree with the commentary.
Now, if your brand faces a similar kerfuffle down the road, roll with the punch and let people know you can take a joke. That will do more to enhance your brand than calling in a small army of lawyers.
What do you think of Quiznos’ latest parody video, and its digital video marketing strategy?