Negative Popularity

Abhishek Ramakrishnan
4 min readSep 8, 2020


In this blog post, we will be visiting several examples of how influencers, massive companies, and people all over the internet turn into one-hit wonders by being an obvious idiot.

Photo by Alicia Steels on Unsplash

The term ‘obvious’ is key here because we think that they’re the ones being a fool, but that is the entire plot here.

You see, people today are prepared to do anything to gather attention, let alone go viral on social media platforms. So when it comes to popularity, it is a long, painful road to grow organically without marketing and hard work. The easy path? Be the obvious. This will buy you people’s attention like paid advertising but better — because it's free.

Most corporations/retailers do this. Being obviously outrageous is the way to go viral without spending a dime. Let's cover some:

  1. Apple — There’s no way we could ever make a post regarding popularity and not talk about Apple. Don’t get me wrong, they make great products but they don’t market on social media. You know why? Because influencers and their obvious outrageousness markets for them and yes, for free! Here’s one: The Mac Pro’s US$ 700 wheel kit. It is outrageous, it is obvious, it has got Apple the most press for over two weeks on all the top tech blogs for FREE. That is how you get press for free — by being obviously outrageous. There are several other examples of Apple employing this genius marketing but that’s a lot for this post (maybe a separate one later).

2. BMW — Their signature style to every car that left their production facility is their ‘Kidney Grille’. But over the years of their tradition, cars have grown and so have their grills. For a market that demands larger sedans and SUVs, BMW had no other call but to fit massive grills to their new flagship cars (the 7-series and the X7). The media went nuts. Every car press that month was talking about that. ‘There’s less car in that grille’ ‘Too much car in that grille’ — way too many memes were made. Lucky for BMW, that's free press to them. Outrageous, obvious, genius. They are planning on doing it again with the M4 and the M3 touring and, I don’t think that they’re gonna stop anytime soon. (edit after the official launch of the M3, M4, and the M440i — BMW really wants everyone to know that they are not done yet).

Photo by Malusi Msomi on Unsplash | dat grille tho…

3. Saravana Stores — If you haven’t heard of them, they are a massive retail chain in South India and they need no advertising/introduction here in my region. But they chose, to do something beyond crazy — make a commercial that was supposed to be a meme by design (and I bet they already knew). It made people go nuts over it. It went viral for over a month on all popular social media platforms here. I guess it is safe to say that they made it obviously outrageous.

one of Saravana Stores’ TV commercials

Several influencers also gained their popularity in this virtual world of the internet through ‘negative popularity’. You and I see negative popularity as ‘looking like an idiot on a camera seen by millions of people all over the world’ but all they see is ‘seen by millions of people’. Because that’s where big money is made. While you and I were laughing at some idiots on YouTube, they were making money off of it — who’s the moron now?

These are some examples of people exercising this to reach the ‘viral’ status:

  1. Dhinchak Pooja — She is one of the YouTube personalities who went viral for her ‘obviously outrageous’ songs on YouTube. Her songs weren’t even close to good, she knew that and boy did that farm her over 44 million views (as checked on the day of writing this post). Her insane success was the inspiration for this post.

2. Mannai Sathik — Same stuff. He does viral content that makes people think that he’s nuts but he farms views like its nothing. He may not be as popular as Pooja but he is one of the well known YouTube personalities in the South of India (especially in Tamil Nadu).

These are some of the few examples that I could obviously spot. There’s a lot more in this attention-hungry world.

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