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Brands being unhinged on social media works: Duolingo will find you

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Brands being unhinged on social media works: Duolingo will find you


Advertising on social media isn’t cool, we learned this through the media in movies like The Social Network and Ready Player One. It saturates the actual media app and takes away from the experience for the media user. YouTube can be unbearable at the best of times, it’s nearly impossible to listen to a podcast without getting interrupted by an unskippable ad every couple of minutes or so. The overload of ads is almost as bad as The Block during reveal week!

Facebook has gotten to that point, where every third post is a sponsored post or sponsored story. Instagram is flooded with influencers who are trying to push some promotion code or other. TikTok is a confusing crowd to advertise to though. It is a much younger audience than that of Facenook and Instagram, however there are just as many influencers on TikTok throwing advertisements and promo’s down their audiences throats. Paid posts on TikTok are just as invasive as they are on Instagram, as they take up the whole screen and often are the first thing you see when you open the app up.

So, how do brands go about this differently? How do they avoid annoying audiences into swiping past their ad and growing less invested in the media app that they advertise on?

People are quite familiar with Duolingo. It’s a friendly app, with a cute mascot called Duo. The app has been designed to encourage people to learn new languages. Everyone at some point in time or another has used Duolingo, it’s a great app. People would also be familiar with how passive-aggressive and low-key threatening Duo’s reminders to use the app would be.

Global social media manager for Duolingo Zaria Parvez has used this deranged perception of their very wholesome mascot, into creating a very lovable adaptation of Duo for their brand. Parvez created a TikTok sitcom for Duolingo’s Tik Tok account to explore the memes of the Duo character.

Parvez has continued to grow Duo as a character over a three year period as she started working the sitcom series as an experiment in 2019 when TikTok surged into popularity. Parvez took the unhinged character to create not a paid advertisement, but a series. The sitcom series is arguably better advertising then the ads they were able to produce. It is getting more eyes on their product, and more investment in the content and creators themselves, that will create engagement with the audience.

There is still passion and care involved in this sort of product, even though they are able to pump out more of these than structured campaigns. It is also more likely to resonate with the younger crowd on these platforms.


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Aidan Vaughan

Aidan Vaughan is a writer for Marketing Magazine.

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