On Fleek or Too Thirsty?: Brands Adopt Slang with Varying Degrees of Success

#bae #fleek #basic #thirsty

If you need to look up these terms on Urban Dictionary, you should not be using them. EVER.

In an attempt to sound less stuffy and corporate, an avalanche of brands have taken to adopting the lingo of teens and young adults on social media. The social media listening and analytics tool, Brandwatch, found nearly 17,000 mentions of popular slang terms “bae” and “fleek” online by both brands and consumers. Which brands are flocking to these trendy nuggets of pop culture goodness? Sonic, Tostitos, Taco Bell, Ragu, and Whole Foods are just a few on the bandwagon. (Whole Foods, really?!)

The explosion of #bae on Twitter has even inspired the creation of the entertaining Brands Saying Bae Twitter account, which states, “It’s cool when a corporation tweets like a teenager. It makes me want to buy the corporation’s products.” Feel the burn there?


So what’s happening here? Desperation.

The corporate world is hijacking popular slang in an attempt to connect with teen and Millennial consumers “on their level.” The thing is, it feels fabricated and has been abused to the point of becoming a huge joke. Any attempts of making an authentic brand-fan connection is dashed because the consumer is smart enough to realize they are being pandered to in a superficial manner. It’s borderline insulting. Brands need to stop looking for cheap band-aids and invest their energy into cultivating true wit and genuine conversations.


Sure, “youthful” brands like Taco Bell and Sonic can get away with “bae” initially since they often rely on a mix of humor and pop culture. Taco Bell’s worldwide trending topic “Taco Bae” back in April 2014 was really fun and playful at first, but when brands like Whole Foods and Staples also join in… things get weird.

Taco Bell should have pulled the plug on their bae push months ago after the bubble burst. When brands that have no business ‘being one of the kids’ start copycatting, that’s a sign this trend has jumped the shark and should be abandoned immediately. Don’t be like The Fonz and just continue riding the wave…

baeMean Girls character Regina George sums up this topic splendidly. YAAAS.