Influencers filming unhinged content for social media

Unhinged content has quickly become one of the hottest trends in marketing. Maybe you’ve seen a shocking TikTok, only to realize a verified brand posted it. Or perhaps you’ve read about the success of companies like Duolingo who have embraced unhinged social media strategies.

Unhinged content strategies can be found around the world. But since they rely so much on humor, it’s especially important to make sure you have deep local knowledge of your target markets if you want to get unhinged content right in international markets. 

If localizing an unhinged content approach is something you’re considering for your brand, read on to find out how to ensure you hit the mark for each audience.

What is unhinged content?

Examples of unhinged content from brands on social media
Examples of unhinged content from Burger King, Ryanair and Duolingo on social media

Unhinged content abandons traditional, bland and polished marketing methods to seem more human-like and relatable. It engages consumers with memes, trending topics and a defined yet humorous brand voice. 

The strategy emphasizes organic growth over paid campaigns and often adopts an outrageous, nonsensical tone that satirizes serious and professional marketing. 

Typically, an unhinged content approach involves short-form videos and images, typically with “messy” or unpolished-looking graphics. The posts may use current popular meme formats or TikTok audios, reference pop culture events or even have the brand poking fun at its own public perception. 

This approach aims to participate in trends, entertain consumers and create engaging storylines that viewers will return to.

Ready to grow your brand globally

How to localize unhinged content

To create a multilingual marketing plan with unhinged content, you must be careful when localizing or translating. You should also make sure the meme or joke formats you plan on using are used on the parts of the web that speak your target language. 

Ensuring you’re working with creators and translators who deeply understand your target markets is critical. Some ways to do that are:

  • Find content creators in your target market and partner with them to create content that seems more natural and user-generated.
  • Research if any companies are doing unhinged marketing in your target language and use them as inspiration.
  • Work with an agency specializing in multilingual content creation, translation and localization—like us!

It’s important to realize that unhinged content is usually quite audience/region-specific, making it hard to adapt for different audiences. You’ll often need a unique strategy for each target market.

An unhinged content case study: KFC España

KFC España TikTok and X accounts
KFC España TikTok and X accounts

KFC España is a true unhinged marketing success story that proves the approach can be localized to different markets. They’ve become famous on TikTok and X for their irreverent and viral memes. 

Since first implementing an unhinged marketing approach in 2021, they’ve skillfully used social listening, a young social media team and spontaneity to revitalize the KFC brand in Spain.

They have the numbers to back themselves up: 

  • In 2022, 29% of all interactions on social media in Spain across all brands were with KFC accounts. 
  • The next-highest brand on that list was Carrefour, at 3%. 
  • Between 2020 and 2022, they went from 281,000 to 1.1 million Twitter followers. 
  • As of February 2024, @KFC_es has 4.9 million TikTok followers, whereas @kentuckyfriedchicken has 976,000.

chipi chipi chapa chapa dubi dubi daba daba mágico mi dubi dubi boom boom boom boom

♬ Dubidubidu – Christell

And it’s not just social media numbers. It’s positively affecting the real world as well. Between 2020 and 2022, their market share rose from 4.1% to 5.5%, surpassing Domino’s. They’ve even extended their unhinged approach to traditional advertising, such as TV spots and in-store campaigns, that tie in with the storylines from their social media accounts. 

A successful tie-in campaign was “Eduardo.” One of their most well-known running jokes on their X account is a drumstick named Eduardo. 

For the 2022 holiday season, customers could pay extra to get an Eduardo ornament if they order through the app. App downloads increased by +111% in a matter of days due to the campaign. They also partnered with the snack brand Grefusa to sell fried chicken-flavored sunflower seeds and have sold over 2.5 million bags. 

What do KFC España say is the secret to their success? 

A social team that really understands what’s currently trending in Spain, an “always on” posting strategy that emphasizes spontaneity and speed and positioning themselves as “brand-as-influencer.” 

They say that their community are the ones that ultimately decide what kind of content is posted through their interactions and spin-offs of memes that KFC creates.

Also key is their young target audience. The brand knows older Spanish people will never eat in KFCs, so instead of trying to change that, they’d rather convert young people into being customers for life. 

Where did unhinged content come from?

Essentially, it’s a backlash to the 2010s era of the polished Instagram look. For a long time, brands and consumers were interested in perfectly organized flat-lays, heavily posed/staged photos and many filters. But around 2019, younger users on Instagram started posting more random, unedited photos (think the “photo dump”), as they wanted social media to feel more “authentic.” 

Around this time, consumers grew increasingly tired of mega-influencers and feeling like they were constantly being marketed to. Because of the mass proliferation of ads in most corners of the internet, the average consumer on social media wanted to be entertained, not sold products. 

Consumer trust in brands as a whole was dropping rapidly. Combining these two shifts, unhinged marketing began to take shape. 

The first examples of unhinged branded social media accounts actually took off several years before this trend shift—around 2016-17. They mostly consisted of food brands such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Steak-MMS and others posting jokes on Twitter, talking with and insulting each other, and engaging with trending topics. 

These accounts were completely unexpected for the time, and the participating brands tended to see lots of organic growth on the platform.

Wendy's tweet example of unhinged content marketing

Fast-forward to the current day, and social media as a whole is much more about authenticity and “realness”—one of the reasons why TikTok has exploded in popularity. 

But, at the same time, users are flooded with more ads than ever.

This is why more and more brands want to do something that stands out, breaks barriers and goes viral. They want to come off as honest, fun and authentic. Plus, shocking content stands out more in the consumer’s mind, making ad spend more effective.

It’s definitely a high-risk, high-reward strategy, but it’s gotten popular enough that even major marketing reports have touted it as highly successful. They suggest brands emphasize product-led and organic growth over paid growth, as the rapidly changing algorithms and social media landscape can make overreliance on paid growth fragile. 

Is an unhinged content strategy effective?

Duolingo TikTok example

In certain industries and with the right approach, unhinged content has proven very effective. Companies such as Duolingo, Ryanair and Scrub Daddy have found great success with out-of-the-box content on TikTok. 

There are some pros and cons you should think about when considering unhinged marketing. 


  • Creates deeper engagement and emotional connections with your target audience 
  • Helps you stand out in a crowded field 
  • Encourages brand loyalty 
  • Generally inexpensive
  • Relatable and personable 
  • Creates organic growth


  • Can misalign the brand and the brand voice
  • There can be a thin line between relatable and offensive 
  • Can be unsustainable, particularly if trends shift

As with any trendy or different approach to marketing, you should analyze your business, target customers and goals to decide if unhinged content is something that could be effective for you. 

Some aspects to consider include: 

Customer age  

Having a younger target customer is one of the biggest indicators of the potential effectiveness of unhinged marketing. It relies on highly current memes and internet knowledge and typically appeals less to older customers.

Business type

Brands that sell directly to customers, like those offering packaged goods or fun brands such as casual restaurants, are better suited for bold and playful marketing.

Brands built on high levels of trust or authority, such as banks, law offices or medical centers, should probably avoid this content trend. While it can work with B2B brands, it should proceed with caution. 

Brand trust

Unhinged marketing works best with brands that already have an established level of trust with their target customers. New brands and ones struggling with trust issues should consider other marketing approaches.

Marketing goals

As unhinged marketing focuses on organic growth and going viral, it’s best for brands focusing on their marketing plan’s awareness stage. While it can (and does) lead to increased sales and conversions, it might take longer to see these improvements than other methods. Keep that in mind when deciding on your approach. 


Unhinged content performs best on TikTok and X. Most brands who are well-known for their unhinged content on those two social networks tend to post more standard marketing content on Facebook or Instagram. 

So, if your goals are based more on metrics for those two platforms, a different marketing strategy might be beneficial. 

Ready to get unhinged?

It’s impossible to say whether unhinged marketing is here to stay or a passing trend. But its potential to help grow your business, if done correctly, is undeniable—particularly in non-English-speaking markets.

When localizing unhinged content, finding the right people to create or translate can make or break your marketing plan. The internet isn’t the same everywhere, so it’s imperative that the content you’re creating both makes sense to and resonates with your target audience. 

We’d love to help you make the most of the unhinged marketing trend. Book a call with our VeraContent team today to see if you qualify for a Free Content Consultation. 

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