Brand Hijacking the ‘V is for Vendetta’ Mask

A couple of years ago, one of my Michigan State University professors, Dr. Keith Adler, introduced me to the book Brand Hijack: Marketing Without Marketing. Ever since then, I’ve enjoyed finding examples brand hijacking in modern culture. For those unfamiliar with the term, Brand Hijacking refers to a group of consumers take over a particular brand, make it their own, and attach meaning to it.

One of my favorite recent examples of a brand being hijacked is the Guy Fawkes mask from the movie ‘V is for Vendetta.’

Since the movie came out, there have been three notable examples of groups hijacking the mask for their cause:

  1. The first time I saw another use of the mask was for the group Anonymous. They used the masks in their Church of Scientology protests to not only hide their identity from the Scientologists (who are known for suing  anyone that questions them), but also to make their point about the control of the church and some of the governmental protection the church receives.
  2. Then, the supposedly same group, Anonymous, also used the masks to protest against the crackdown on Julian Assange for his website, Wikileaks.
  3. Finally, Occupy Wall Street protestors began using the mask in their protests across the county in their attempt rise up against the government and end corporate greed.

So what does Time Warner, the company that owns the mask think of all of this? Well, they haven’t said too much, but considering that they are paid a licensing fee and it’s one of the top masks in terms of sales, I’m sure they aren’t too terribly upset.


For more of my writings on brand hijacking, see the links below:

Social media strategy means starting with a goal and losing control

What burning toilet paper and high school teacher reminded me about marketing and pr