There’s Something About Memes (part 4 of ?)

Memes are defined as a unit of pop culture. The term was first coined by a British scientist, RichardDawkins,  to describe the evolution and spread of cultural ideas. Somewhere along the line, the term degenerated to describe LOLcats and Rickrolling.

The success and longevity of a meme depends upon how culturally relevant it is. Case in point, this past Sunday, MTV aired its annual Music Video Awards. As a big television event, the award show had lots of eyeballs on it, so when the  unexpected happened, it did not take long for that moment to bear fruit to a new meme. During an acceptance speech by country/pop singer Taylor Swift, hip hop artist Kanye West grabbed the microphone from her hand to proclaim that Beyonce, who Taylor had beat out for the award, had “one of the best videos of all time.” (Video here) This opened the door for a brand new meme that caught on like wildfire yesterday.

An example:


Continue reading


Web Site Story – CollegeHumor video pokes fun at trendiest Web sites

Story of our lives, huh?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Hey Post-It: Why Haven’t You Posted This?

When a video surfaced on YouTube in April featuring Domino’s employees doing some rather disgusting things to customers’ orders, it made all of us not only cringe, but reflect on how we, as communicators, might respond to a similar situation.  Plenty of bright folks have already weighed in with great advice on the lessons learned from that catastrophe.

So how should we respond when a video surfaces on a channel like YouTube that doesn’t intend to damage our brand, but to celebrate it?

Such is the case in this recent video from Bang-yao Liu, a student at the Savannah College of Art who used 3M Post-It Notes and some rather clever stop motion animation techniques to create his senior art project, a stunning video shown here:

The video has racked up more than 3,600 Diggs, is spreading like wildfire on Twitter, and is posted all over the blogosphere.  So far, it seems like just about everyone who watches it feels compelled to somehow share this amazing piece of art.

Everyone, that is, except for 3M.

Sure, just the attention this video has already generated is no doubt a big success for the company and they should be thrilled.  But why not take it a step further by engaging with the video’s creator and the thousands of people who have responded so favorably to it? Why not:

  • Embed the videos somewhere on the Post-It home page?
  • Share the video with the group of 2,000+ Post-It advocates on Facebook?
  • Reach out to Liu and politely request an opportunity to create a behind-the-scenes mini-documentary that illustrates how he created the video? (My first reaction to the video was probably the same as yours: “How the heck did he do that, and how long did that take?!” I’d definitely watch a short documentary. Wouldn’t you?)
  • Launch a contest encouraging other artists to create similar videos? Perhaps the winning video is incorporated into an upcoming ad campaign?

From what I can tell, 3M hasn’t yet taken any of these steps.

I’ll turn it over to you. What am I missing? How else should 3M capitalize on this opportunity?

[Kudos to Zach_ManchesterUK for the photo above]

Bank of Obama – Bailouts for all!


A clever, novelty gift. You can either send a virtual check via email (for free) or they will send an actual (and, of course, fake) check to the recipient with this message:

Hey– I thought you could use a bailout from the Bank of Obama. Everyone else is getting one, so why not you too? Hope this helps you out. If you need any more funds, you know where to find them. Cheers.

You can see the one above I sent to my sister, who is swimming in student loans post-med school. I think she’ll appreciate Obama’s generosity ;)

This is getting some viral noise, but I think it would make a cool Facebook gift…if no one is doing that already.


End results of the Burrito campaign – PDX

Many of you heard me tell this story on a team call in December, but wanted to share the final results because there are quite a few lessons to be learned about social media and PR.

Quick background: my friend Aaron, worried about his mom’s bookstore in Portland with the troubled economy and projected all-time-low retail holiday spending season, posted on his blog that he would offer a burrito to anyone who spent $50 at her store. He set the date – Jan 16 – for a “burrito party,” as he’d be returning home to Portland for a visit that weekend, and he put the wheels in motion on his blog, encouraging people to “shop local” during the holidays. He linked to the blog post on Twitter and his Facebook profile – where the story seemed to quickly grow legs.

Within a day, he says he had about 400 more views than normal at the blog. In a few more days, he saw local news blogs pick up the story, calling it “heartwarming.” Then the local broadcast news station picked up the story, interviewing his mother in her store on the Portland evening news. The Portland Mercury (like SF Bay Guardian or SF Weekly – event listings) wrote an article and just last week, The Oregonian reported on the story, following the burrito collection party.

Image courtesy The Oregonian

Aaron, friends and owner of Cha Cha Cha in Portland, OR. Image courtesy The Oregonian

 Some lessons (in my mind) to be learned from this:

  1. Twitter is a rapid-fire way to engage response and action
  2. Journalists do read Twitter and blogs – even personal ones, it would seem – for news sources
  3. A personal/local story makes personal/local news

Oh – and smart PR pays off: Aaron was offered a job in the marketing department at Birkenstock, where he previously worked on customer support/analytics, by the CEO after he caught wind of the “campaign.” The exec also asked my friend for advice on social networking (I assume he’s caught wind of the Zappos guy’s success).

Not bad traction for a quick, pleading blog posting, eh? :)


Aaron’s other new media success since moving to SF:

Meets Guy Kawasaki randomly at airport AFTER having worked with him to create, per a suggestion Aaron sent Guy on Twitter; Guy then mails him signed copy of his book.

Classic right place, right time – but also adding the right idea!