Electronic Retailer - June 2012 - (Page 54)

RICK PETRY r ‘ 54 The Meme Dream seem to resist as the spot and its satirical spin-offs spawn millions of views. • Moving: As the recent meme cum short film “Caine’s Arcade” proved, the simplest story, when well told, can not only move people to tears, it can move them to tear out their checkbooks. This tale of an enterprising 9-year old and his imaginative arcade made of cardboard and duct tape has inspired total strangers to fund his entire college education and created a cottage industry in spin-off T-shirts. • Tribal: The flood of “What I Really Do” memes that riffed on stereotypes of various professions, religions and the like, was the epitome of nudgenudge, wink-wink humor. These sorts of insider jokes create a commonality unique to the internet, in that they create unified laughter that transcends the limitations of time and space. Many marketers are now creating Facebook “like” buttons on product sites that then post those items on an individual’s Facebook wall for their entire world to see, drool over and approve of. These types of intersections can nurture brand tribalism around, say, a particular designer purse. While such online high-fives may seem like nothing more than shallow gestures, they are, in fact, quite powerful. Taken as a whole, the broadcasting of memes fosters a kind of virtual intimacy capable of cementing relationships between people, brands and products. The velocity with which such information travels across the blogosphere is staggering, rendering the zeitgeist of the times a moving target that changes with the weather. For marketers shrewd or lucky enough to catch one of these waves, the opportunity to catapult their product or service into the public eye can rival the impact of the most talked about Super Bowl commercial. While the emergence of viral content and what causes it is just beginning to be understood, it is clear that its growth is being fueled by the most basic of instincts: the desire to be recognized and appreciated, ergo, the ego. But make no mistake, such cultural anomalies are being stoked by specific intention, making them no Freudian slip. Rick Petry is a freelance writer who specializes in direct marketing and is a past chairman of ERA. He can be reached at (503) 740-9065, online at rickpetry. com or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thepetrydish. “RIP Whitney Houston.” “Shy Boy and His Friend Shock the Audience with The Prayer – Unbelievable.” “Make Kony Famous.” The human impulse to spread the word – or content in the age of social networking – is irresistible. Known by the term meme, defined by dictionary.com as “a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes,” such content erupts into global wildfires of human interest that mirror news cycles and, in some cases, now supplant them. While marketers create Facebook pages, peck out tweets and post on video-sharing sites with the dream of capturing such viral lightning in a bottle, these phenomenon remain largely organic. Nonetheless, there are valuable lessons that advertisers can learn by examining the impulses that drive such word of mouth. Perhaps the most important factor fueling memes is the “me” part, as in “I,” which is to say that humans are a species of storytellers that take special delight in being the first to know something and spread it among their sphere of influence. This is an evolutionary detail that likely dates back to the earliest caveman raconteur holding his tribe rapt around the campfire with a huntsman’s tale of bravery. While he may not have been aware of it, that Neanderthal was engaged in an act of advertising. He was promoting his own personal brand in the hopes that it would elevate him above the fold. Fast-forward to our modern age of information overload, and the internet turns associating oneself with specific bits of content into an act as simple as clicking a mouse. By now, marketers know that if they build it, folks won’t necessarily come. If they expect to knife through this digital jungle, they had better have something that is so outstanding it stands out. Here are some of the most common elements of successful memes that marketers would be wise to consider: • Timely: Information has a finite shelf life. Just like new news has a bleeding cusp, by limiting the window by which a consumer can take advantage of a particular proposition, marketers help fuel scarcity mentality that translates into a desire to get in on a deal while the getting is good. • Funny: Many DRTV ads, known for over-the-top kitsch, demonstrate viral-ity. Witness the Schticky Roller commercial, replete with a not-so-subtle reference to host Vince Offer’s infamous South Beach bust, and you have schtick no one in America can electronicRETAILER | June 2012 http://www.dictionary.com http://www.twitter.com/thepetrydish http://www.naylornetwork.com/era-nxt/

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Electronic Retailer - June 2012

Calendar of Events
Your Association,Your Bottom Line
Industry Reports
FTC Forum
eMarketer Research
IMS Retail Rankings
Jordan Whitney's Top Categories
Ask the Expert
From the Executive's Desk
Thinking Outside the Box
DRTV's New Best Practices
It's Time to Think Differently About Payment Processing
Guest Viewpoint
Guest Viewpoint
U.S. Hispanic
Member Spotlight
Advertiser Spotlight
Advertiser Index
Bulletin Board
Rick Petry

Electronic Retailer - June 2012