The local transportation in Stockholm recently launched a new campaign for their summer tickets with the widely popular “doge” meme.
The meme, featuring the same style of writing and imagery used in countless internet jokes, is on posters all over Stockholm’s underground stations. What is interesting is the timing of the ad. From Google trends we can see that the meme peaked sometime late last year and the beginning of this year. The past months its popularity has begun to dwindle, indicating that people will have lost interest almost completely by the end of this year. For the moment, however, the campaign seems to have been a success, receiving both mainstream media coverage and social media exposure – apparently people are even stealing the ad posters.
What we have here, then, is an example of using (or some might say colonizing) internet culture for ad purposes. When the meme reached the mainstream, it also attracted the interest of advertisers, or perhaps more accurately, ad agencies.
In an article from last year, Digiday listed 5 memes that later became ads: success kid, grumpy cat, Y U No guy, Chuck Norris facts and Honey Badger.
While the Hipchat billboard was introduced when Y U NO was still on the rise (and the billboard was deemed a success), Virgin Media’s Success kid campaign started when the meme was on its way down. Similarly, the more Grumpy cat appeared in the mainstream, the less interested people were.
From this we can speculate on a few conclusions:
1) If the brand is less popular than the meme, it can ride on its popularity
2) if the brand is well-known, it might raise resentment for “colonizing” an internet joke
3) larger companies are often a bit late to the party.