In an alternate universe, snail facials have taken over the LA beauty scene, and Jeff Bridges is an acclaimed sound engineer slash sleep technician. But in this universe, those are both examples of fake initiatives created to boost visibility of real brands, namely Squarespace and MailChimp.

It’s not a coincidence that both companies specialize in helping build other brands. In fact, these fake brands almost work as case studies. And while both campaigns tiptoe right up to the line of weirdvertising, that can actually help drive home the power of the real brand. We’ve made this odd thing famous. Imagine what we can do for your thing.

How Fake is Fake?

Of course, companies have created fake competitors for decades as a way to highlight differences from their real competitors. How many commercials have you seen with executives disparaging a rival brand, only for them to realize that the rival’s offerings are superior?

But what’s new is the trend of creating fake brands as side projects, to the point where it might not even be fair to call these brands “fake.” Squarespace has recently joined forces with John Malkovich on his new fashion line, which seems like a joke until you realize that you can actually buy the clothing. And part of MailChimp’s campaign is the creation of collaborative R&B group VeilHymn, whose first single is climbing the very real Soundcloud charts.

Creativity Over All

So what can other brands learn from these campaigns? First of all, they allow companies to unleash their creativity without the restraints of strict brand standards. Secondly, they put the brand in new and interesting environments, from New York bodegas to the high fashion runway.

They open new doors for all kinds of brands. Perhaps your brand wouldn’t feel right in one media execution, or with a wildly different tone of voice. But maybe your fake brand would. It creates a scenario where you don’t need the consumer’s permission to do something a little bit out there. So maybe the best way to get real is to make something fake.


Forge’s Consumer Marketing Group is exclusively focused on increasing brand awareness, consumer preference, revenue growth, and long-term brand loyalty for a variety of consumer products and services. To learn more about Forge or our Consumer Marketing Group, email Jesse Strawbridge.