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‘Planet Hillary’ Explodes into Viral Parody
By: Jeannine Wheeler
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New York Times magazine scored a major coup this month when its photo-shopped "Planet Hillary" cover went viral, proving once again that there is no surety or formula for creating the video, tweet, or photo that will capture the world’s attention. But it is most certainly every brand’s daydream to do so.

The NYT magazine visual showed Hillary’s visage photoshopped onto a planet, which New York Times design director Arem Duplessis explains was inspired by the 1902 silent film Le Voyage dans la Lune, featuring the iconic "Man in the Moon."

Rather than a man on the moon, however, the NYT magazine superimposed Hillary’s face onto the orb, insinuating that Hillary might become so powerful and ubiquitous that she may as well capture the sun and the moon as well as the earth — that is, if she becomes America’s first female president.

The cover was created not only to bring attention to the magazine’s feature on Hillary’s possible 2016 presidential candidacy, but also to the publication’s ability to capture pop and political culture. What happened next, though, took everyone by surprise.

When the magazine issued a preview of its issue on Thursday, the Internet exploded with its own clever and sometimes bizarre parodies of the imaginative cover, reportedly taking Duplessis by surprise.

These included Miley on the Hillary "wrecking ball," Ted Cruz on the same, an exploding Death Star Hillary, Nancy Grace using the Hillary graphic to illustrate a legal point, a Marvel Adventures illustrated version, an ET version, and a truly bizarre parody starring Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks with pop-up "orb heads" of Bruce Willis and Hillary.

Mashable and Buzzfeed continue to collect the most creative renditions, with millions sharing the cover and its parodies. Kudos to the magazine, if only unintentionally.

You can’t predict viral

Going viral is a tricky and close-run thing. Every brand or creator wants to do it, even if they won’t admit it, but very few will ever succeed, and oft-times accidentally.

It is hoped that likes, shares, and (with imitation being the best form of flattery) parodies, the viral will raise credibility and increase sales and notoriety, or best of all, all three.

Some of those who have achieved the nearly impossible include those highlighted by the New York Post in its "13 best viral videos of 2013." Most are not-to-be-missed, including Robin Thicke’s "Blurred Lines." the Carrie movie "Coffee Shop Caper," the "Cleveland Hero remixed," the "Girl Catches Fire" Twerking mishap staged by Jimmy Kimmel, the NFL’s "Bad Lip Reading," Fred’s Tribute to Lorraine, Direct TV’s "Football on your Phone," and yes, that train wreck that is Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball."

Whether you go viral or die trying, it is worth the effort. The trick, however, is to manage expectations, whether it be your managing director’s, your client’s, or your own. Whatever you do, have fun out there!


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About the Author
Jeannine Wheeler is a PR Director who has worked in three countries, including Russia, the US and the UK. She is currently Sr. Vice President of Pure Energy PR, a full-service boutique communications firm with a focus on the energy, healthcare, technology, construction, real estate & land development, tourism & hospitality and food & beverage industries. Jeannine is in the firm's Austin, Texas office.
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