The Relationship Between Pop Culture and SMM (2023 Edition)

When there’s a significant pop culture moment, where is the first place people react and discuss? Social media. Companies have started to catch on and act swiftly to roll out social media campaigns and content to generate more engagement, reach new audiences, and strengthen the brand’s social community.

Top Pop Culture Moments & the Social Media Campaigns That Followed


In 2023, we experienced moments that made us feel like a kid again. It came with celebrity memoirs that made us reflect, sampled music, recycled fashion trends, reunions of our favorite celebrity duos behind the SAG-AFTRA and WGA picket lines, and numerous movie and television reboots. These moments made our responsibilities disappear, our imagination flow, and our happiness grow, even for a second. They say the past is behind us, but pop culture hasn’t heard that, and we’re not complaining! 

With the year of Nostalgia, we saw major rebrands that played into it. Pepsi celebrated its 125th anniversary and relaunched its vintage logo. It teased the logo drop on Instagram and celebrated the drop by resurfacing its most popular commercials. To tie its campaign even closer to pop culture, its tagline was “making culture POP.” The other major rebrand was McDonald’s, bringing back their original characters. Their biggest social media campaign was the “Grimace Shake Challenge” on TikTok where consumers fake their death after drinking the purple shake. The viral trend boosted McDonald’s sales by 11%. 

A McDonald’s cup sits in a parking garage awaiting the Grimace Shake Challenge.

Barbie (The Movie)

Barbie encaptured all of what 2023 was about – nostalgia, feminism, and pink. This movie grossed $155 million on opening weekend and topped $1 billion internationally. Women got to reminisce on playing with one of their favorite childhood toys, they were celebrated and empowered, and pink was the color of the year! In light of their recent Oscar nominations or a certain lack of them, Oscar experts predict this moment to be remembered for a long time because of the disappointment surrounding it. This proves how big of an impact Barbie has had on pop culture, whether a positive or negative reaction. 

This might be the first movie that had to turn down partnerships, as they already had 165 partners from all around the world. TikTok and Instagram teased clips of the movie and music that generated buzz before its release. A huge chunk of brands debuted pink product lines on their socials. Social media users connected over the evolution of Barbie and their memories of the Barbie product, strengthening the emotional connection. Users and brands got to express themselves with the “This Barbie is…” trend after the cast and characters were revealed.  

This Barbie is… a fierce businesswoman.


The pop culture crime that captivated the world this year…”Scandoval.” If you haven’t heard, let’s summarize. One of Bravo’s top reality television shows, Vanderpump Rules, spent its tenth season unraveling the most surprising lie of the series (if you watch, you understand the gravity of the “most”). Long-standing couple Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval split after ten years because of an affair between Tom and their good friend, Raquel. Even though it may have felt like the end of Ariana, it was most definitely not.  

The better half of the Scandoval duo, Ariana Madix, won the internet’s affection and was flooded with partnerships. TikTok teased her appearance on Love Island, Dancing with the Stars previewed her as a contestant on its socials to generate hype, and the Uber One “Good as Gold” commercial was blasted across all platforms. Some of her campaigns included direct digs at Tom, like her Instagram post with Glad and her Duracell campaign that had viewers reacting via X, formally known as Twitter. 

The front entrance of Sur, the restaurant the cast worked at to begin the series.

Spotify Wrapped 

Spotify Wrapped is a recurring pop culture phenomenon. Toward the end of the year, Spotify releases statistics, rankings, and playlists that are customized based on your streaming throughout the year. Spotify gives each user the top artists, songs, genres, and total minutes listened. Each user receives a personalized top 100 songs playlist that can be saved and listened to again and again. All results on Spotify Wrapped are shareable, turning that day into a social media frenzy.

When Spotify Wrapped drops, everyone knows. It has become a social media craze because results are posted everywhere: Instagram stories, Snapchat stories, and Facebook stories. It gives social media users a chance to express themselves, connect with others, and discover new music. Other companies caught on to this social media phenomenon, creating templates similar to Spotify Wrapped to release their end-of-the-year statistics including sales, new users, and engagement. LinkedIn users have posted their resumes on the platform in the form of the Spotify Wrapped template for a creative twist with scannable insights. 

Top statistics in one’s Spotify Wrapped.

Taylor Swift 

Truly, the woman of the year, obtaining a level of stardom that everyone in Hollywood dreams of. What can she not do? Taylor Swift has many talents that were showcased this year. The biggest one was her 3-hour world tour performance; most athletes don’t even have that endurance. Speaking of, she brought a new audience into the NFL and even more attention to her new boyfriend, Travis Kelce. Before you get angry, yes, people knew who he was, but he became more well-known to a wider demographic. These two pop culture moments alone gave social media marketers content gold. 

Taylor Swift took the social media world by storm. TikTok was flooded with videos from her tour and fans parading in outfits from different eras. Most platforms had face filters that turned the user into The Eras Tour poster, filters to rank her albums, and filters that gave you the era you’d fit best in. The other social media craze was Taylor in the NFL. The NFL commentators made Swift references, the cameras always panned to her, and pictures of her and Travis Kelce would flood social media platforms. State Farm’s Jake recreated Taylor’s NFL reactions with Donna Kelce, which gave State Farm some recognition. The other brand that utilized Taylor’s photos at the Chief’s games was Heinz. After a photo was posted on Twitter of her eating nuggets with ketchup and “seemingly ranch,” they released that exact flavor combination as a condiment the next day. Where Taylor leads, the brands will follow.

Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour performance in Chicago on 6/2/23.

Are You Missing Out?

Um…duh! If you’re in social media, no matter the industry, you could miss out on your most successful campaigns by not capitalizing on pop culture moments. The best advice is to be quick, be creative, take risks, and have fun! 

Are you interested in Social Media Management? Aronson Advertising is well experienced in helping automotive dealers take their social platforms to the next level. Learn more about our services on our website or call our office at (847) 297-1700.

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