Meme Me Up Scotty – Leveraging Internet Memes

Posted: June 16, 2009 in Digital Video, Society & Culture, Trends, Viral Marketing

Picture1Many of my readers may already be aware of my life outside of the digital marketing industry. As publisher of a burgeoning niche digital media business, I have been experiencing the other side of the proverbial coin – producing and curating content, providing rich consumer experiences, developing a loyal audience, and managing a practical revenue model.

Our audience is a very unique and interesting one –  the growing global underwater photography and video communities. One of the roles of our editorial team is to keep our audience up to date with all the new photography equipment that may be relevant for underwater use. Needless to say, we receive tons of press releases and PR pitches, and ultimately our audience relies on us to provide relevant information on what’s new and hot.

Tapping Into A Meme
You can imagine my marketing-geek excitement when I received an email from the Olympus marketing team about Olympus teaming up with Tom Dickson – a.k.a. the “will it blend? guy” – to produce a very clever video promoting the new Olympus E-P1.

The background story here is what is so interesting – a marketer, turned meme, co-oping with another marketer. Blendtec is a company that otherwise sells one of the more unsexy products imaginable – high power blenders.  Their Will It Blend? series of videos (and microsite), where they blend everything from an iPhone, to golf balls, a ‘toilet flusher thingy’, even a can of Spam, has catapulted to internet meme status over the last few years. Now Olympus has tapped into that meme-dom, but will this trend continue? Sure – as long as blending ridiculous items continues to engage and capture the attention of consumers, Tom Dickson is going to need more products to blend, and everybody involved might as well benefit. Then we all move on. But for the time being – the first official (or at least recognizable) product marketing tie-in to the Will It Blend? series of “viral videos has this marketing strategist smiling.

We all grew up with TV commercials vying for an emotional or otherwise memorable place in our hearts and minds, yet it’s rare to find online executions that do the same. When online marketing executions achieve this, it is a feat in and of itself, and hopefully we’ll see more of this in our digitally creative future. Blendtec’s videos are as authentic as they are clever, but to cooperate with other product marketers in the process makes it that much more of a success story. So kudos to Blendtec, and kudos to Olympus for approaching them with the idea and pulling this off.

A couple of other examples of advertisers capitalizing on memes:

Geico recently did it with the Numa Numa guy:

Toyota also pulled it off with their 2007 Leroy Jenkins spot:

Tapping into memes is easier said than done of course (and creating a meme is the online equivalent of wiriting a blockbuster movie or best selling novel),  but keep the memes on your radar screen, and when it’s appropriate to your brand, make the magic happen. There’s a little luck in the process – but luck is occurs when preparation meets opportunity.

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  1. Rob says:

    You know THE Tom Dickson! I’m not worthy!

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