10 Business Lamely Utilizing Internet Memes
By Gerri, Business Pundit, 30 October 2013.
By Gerri, Business Pundit, 30 October 2013.
Meme-vertising - yes, that’s really a thing - is becoming an increasingly popular way for companies to reach young audiences. They take popular Internet memes and spin them in a way that’s useful for their brand. Well, sort of. Some do it brilliantly and some, quite frankly, should be a little ashamed of themselves. Here are 10 brands that didn’t quite hit the mark when turning a meme into a marketing ploy.
10. Subway Hashtag
Probably one of the more grating commercials to come out this year, the Subway Hashtag commercial for the restaurant’s new Tuscan Chicken Melt features two young corporate types, one of whom is obnoxiously describing his sandwich in hashtags.
The whole hashtag culture is overdone and tedious to begin with, but watching a corporate chain like Subway ham-handedly use it for advertising purposes is just painful.
9. Honey Badger Wonderful Pistachios
A play on the wildly popular Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger video, which went viral in 2011 and features a National Geographic section on the honey badger being narrated by a sassy YouTuber.
This commercial falls short in that it just feels like it’s trying too hard. Using a beloved meme for an ad is risky business to begin with, and this one simply fell flat. The honey badger is seen using a snake to crack open some pistachios featuring the same narrator as in the famous YouTube video…making practically the same exact jokes, almost word for word. But then again, this is also the company who had Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom star in a commercial.
8. Davis-Moore Nissan Planking
It’s not as bad as the Honey Badger’s pistachios, but it’s still not great. This planking video, in which employees at the Nissan dealership, and elderly customers, “plank” (or lie face down in awkward or unconventional places) in a variety of positions and locations.
It’s a mildly amusing commercial, but feels too much as though the company is trying to be hip, capitalizing on an already bizarre meme in too vanilla of a way. Besides, the whole planking trend sort of died out after a few foolish people actually died trying to pull this stunt in dangerous places.
7. Abercrombie & Fitch “What Does the Fox Say?”
The snobby retailer has come under fire recently for being elitist and only wanting to attract so-called “cool” kids as customers. But the company didn’t do itself any favours with the release of its cover of the bizarre Ylvis tune “The Fox.” The Abercrombie version featured a bunch of admittedly attractive, half-naked models performing the song in a video that came across as kind of pretentious, fratty and unappealing.
It was an underwhelming attempt to get some mileage out of the popular song, and was far less interesting than the original - especially because whoever they hired to do the cover simply didn’t perform as well as Ylvis would have if they had just chosen him for the track instead.
6. Kohl’s Black Friday
A play on Rebecca Black’s so-bad-it-became-famous hit “Friday”, the Kohl’s commercial (and cover song) is possibly even more irritating. The lyrics have been rewritten to promote Black Friday, the notorious post-Thanksgiving shopping day, and the song is sung by a shrill woman hyped up for some Kohl’s shopping.
Like so many retail commercials, it’s cloying. Despite latching onto Black’s irritating (but catchy) song, the spot is not enticing and, like the original song, just gets on your nerves. Not to mention the fact that Kohl’s target audiences are mostly moms, not the blogging 20-somethings who initially found this song so hilarious.
5. Pepsi Max Harlem Shake
Though not as cheesy as some of the others on this list, Pepsi loses points for the shamelessness of the ad. It essentially recreates the popular Harlem Shake dance that went viral in early 2013, with a collection of dancers Harlem Shake-ing it around a car emblazoned with the Pepsi Max logo.
Not the most tasteless meme-inspired commercial out there, but it’s not amusing enough to make the audience forget that Pepsi is just trying to hawk more drinks. Plus, the Harlem Shake became old about three days after its release, with thousands of videos popping up depicting people in every scenario imaginable re-enacting the dance.
4. Chuck Norris World of Warcraft
There are those who can’t get enough of the Chuck Norris meme (mostly 12-year-olds), and the Walker Texas Ranger star has been featured in countless Internet meme images as being an effortless and epic badass in all aspects of life. But sometimes you reach a point where enough is enough, and that’s the case with Norris’ spot for World of Warcraft.
It’s not that the ad is bad or poorly played, or that it doesn’t reach its audience. It just doesn’t quite stack up in terms of originality or creativity. However, we have to give them credit as this advertisement was most likely a hit with WoW-obsessed pre-teens and teenagers worldwide.
3. RNC Mac vs. PC-style Obamacare spot
The GOP isn’t exactly known for being on top of trends but its recently released anti-Obamacare ad seems a bit of a stretch, even for them. An overweight, sloppily-dressed nerdy type represents Obamacare and a clean-cut, attractive guy represents the private sector.
The point of the brief ad is to highlight the numerous problems with the Obamacare rollout, but it’s not as witty or sharp as the original ads and feels like a lame attempt to appeal to a young adult demographic.
2. Virgin Media Success Kid
You’ve definitely seen this one - the pudgy baby on a beach holding up his fist became an Internet sensation in 2007, and has been in circulation ever since. In 2012, Virgin Media decided to cast little Sammy Griner’s cherubic face in a billboard ad campaign that might have seemed clever five years earlier but instead comes across as lazy marketing. Recycling a several-years-old meme and leaning on it’s recognizability rather than coming up with a new campaign is a bit cheap, especially coming from a company like Virgin Media. No wonder they never followed through with the supposed commercial featuring this child that they had originally planned on filming.
1. VitaminWater Grab It by the Horns
Though lauded by some as being a particularly clever spot, VitaminWater’s meme-heavy commercial actually just seems to be pandering, hoping that all of the memes referenced in the commercial (cats, flash mobs and the sexy sax guy, just to name a few) will help it go viral.
They doubly lose points since Smart Water had already released a commercial featuring Jennifer Aniston that poked fun at marketing departments’ obsession with upping their Internet traffic.
[Source: Business Pundit. Edited. Some links added.]