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Happy: Simple Emotion, Extensive Effects


Happiness Is The Truth.

As much as we like to claim that music is universal, it is not very often that a chart topper truly transcends demographics and breaks barriers. From my recollection, the last time it happened was with OutKast’s infectious ‘Hey Ya!’.

When I say transcends demographics and break barriers, what I truly mean is my dad singing and dancing to the same song my friends are singing and dancing to. He is my benchmark for what is and isn’t a cultural phenomenon.

This happened again recently; My dad was singing to the tune of Pharell Williams’ ‘Happy’, a song from the ‘Despicable Me 2’ soundtrack, and also serves as the lead single from Pharell’s second studio album, ‘G I R L’.

‘Happy’ makes for an interesting case study because it was virtually ignored when it was initially released along with the sequel to ‘Despicable Me’ in June of 2013.

Four months down the road and ‘Happy’ becomes a worldwide hit.

What was different from the ‘Despicable Me 2’ release compared to the ‘G I R L’ release of the song?

It is a common occurrence that a song becomes famous long after its release date – but that usually happens when the song is featured in a popular movie. This time, it was the other way round.

It all boils down to marketing. When ‘Happy’ was released in November 2013 as Pharell’s first single from his new album, it was repackaged in the best way possible. The world was introduced to a 24-hour video clip (http://24hoursofhappy.com/) that would play according to their time zone. And it worked wonders.

The video clip sends a positive message about how we all truly want only one thing no matter where we come from, and that’s happiness.

An awesome product coupled with awesome packaging should only mean one thing – instant success. And it was the song and video sparked a worldwide movement that initiated the audience to recreate their own version of the video clip. Even Malaysians hopped on the bandwagon and showed the world how happy Kuala Lumpur is.

Many brands understand that it is hard to deny a product that is driven by emotion. And music is one of the best ways to evoke emotion out of your audience. That must be why we all feel truly connected to this song.

I guess Pharell got it right: Happiness is the truth. And I couldn’t be happier that my dad also feels like a room without a roof.

Clap your hands for Pharell Williams.

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