Know Your Meme: Flipping Tables (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻

Flipping Tables MangaIn a heated text exchange with a friend, colleague or family member? Can’t quite capture your rage with a simple frown emoticon? Use the table flip to show ’em who’s the boss.

Flipping Table emoticon (written as: (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻) is a text-based emoticon depicting a person flipping a table out of rage. Primarily used by East Asian Internet users to express rage, the emoticon became popular among Western internet users following its introduction through internationally popular online games.

Origin
The act of flipping a table out of anger has been typically associated with portrayal of frustrated fathers and husbands in fiction, TV shows as well as manga and anime series (see picture above).

From the Internet to an Arcade Near You

Variations
As with most popular memes, there are several known variations stemming from the original emoticon:

(ノಥ益ಥ)ノ ┻━┻
┬──┬ ¯\_(ツ)
┻━┻ ︵ヽ(`Д´)ノ︵ ┻━┻
┻━┻ ︵ ¯\(ツ)/¯ ︵ ┻━┻
┬─┬ノ( º _ ºノ)
(ノಠ益ಠ)ノ彡┻━┻

Learn more about Flipping Tables at Knowyourmeme.com >

The Hamster, A Digital Marketer’s Best Friend: Hampsterdance (1998)

Note: The views expressed on this blog are my own, and do not necessarily represent the views of my employer, its management, shareholders or employees.

HampsterdanceRewind to the mid-to-late 90s, just before the dot-com bubble burst, when Internet cafés had viable business models and video gaming went polygonal. The golden days of Quake 2 and birth of Starcraft, when early online settlers and squatters spent hours basking in the glow of low resolution computer monitors.

Living in Tampa, Fla. at the time, I attended a rather controversial religious institute (long story), and began my life as a part-time marketer, working with the non-profit and small business community.

Although I rocked a Pentium Pro PC at home, I would often find myself at a local Internet café, where I sipped exotic coffee alongside proto-citizens of the developing digital world.

For me, the shop served as a safe haven for other solar-deprived “nerds” I had come to identify with and love. Though we sat in silence, physically a few feet from one another, the experiences we shared together were legendary… Well, aside from the creepsters who were downloading porn at a snail’s pace in a public setting.

Legendary… We were helping create a new culture; one with our own language, values, heroes, myths and norms. I’d “surf the Information Superhighway” through Metacrawler and Altavista for hours, and check e-mail through my BBS accounts or Hotmail.

One day, my eldest sister forwarded a link for particularly quirky website, which I promptly shared with my online friends. And, 14 years later, I present to you Hampsterdance – essentially a cave painting from the early, “popular” Internet. Visit a replica of the original Hampsterdance website >

Hampster DanceDigital-Specific Content Generation: A Meme is Born
The story, according to Wikipedia: Deidre LaCarte, a Canadian art student, developed Hampsterdance in August 1998 as part of a personal competition between her sister and best friend. The challenge? Who could generate the most traffic/views. Sound familiar, digital marketers? Exactly.

Originally paying homage to her pet hamster, Hampton Hampster, the site featured animated hamsters and rodents, accompanied by a high-pitch version of “Whistle Stop” from Disney’s Robin Hood cartoon, which looped indefinitely on screen (and in my head for years to come).

For about half a year, the site attracted around 4 visitors each day. But, in January 1999, Hampsterdance “went viral,” spreading through e-mails, chat rooms and early blogs. And, let’s not forget setting a friend or coworker’s browser homepage to the site. Featured in news reports and a television ad, Hampsterdance became a pop culture phenomenon.  Watch the Earthlink Television Commercial > Then, as most memes do, multiple derivatives followed. Several Hampsterdance songs were recorded, becoming minor hits in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Cute & Fuzzy Rodents for Modern Marketers
For most modern marketers, it’s quite a stretch to believe that dancing hamsters or fluffy bunnies can resonate with target audiences. Or is it?

Read the article: “Kia Rolls Home with Nielsen’s Top Auto Ad Award” >

Did Kia and its creative agency study digital archeology to unearth a piece of cultural history? Perhaps.

A few points to consider for Hamster-loving digital marketers:

  1. People “speak” a different language online, through both text/words and measurable behaviors.
  2. The digital world is home to a pantheon of online heroes, oftentimes hilarious exhibitors of epic myths and sharable stories.
  3. Digicultural norms and expectations tend to determine what type of content is shared between friends and social networks, whether the point of origin is traditional (television) or entirely digital.
  4. When developing content, it’s important to consider digital anthropology: how has a particular online community evolved over time.
  5. Truly understand the differences between your target’s online and offline needs, wants and desires – which are, more often than not, not directly related to your product or service.

Watch the original Kia hamster ad on YouTube >

@Twilight Vampires Suck Their Way to One Million Twitter Followers

Twilight Eclipse Edward vs JacobApparently all that glitters, sucks or sulks has proven to be Twitter gold for @Twilight, the handle for Summit Entertainment’s blockbuster vampire series.

Although the entertainment industry has long killed it in the digital and social world, the Twilight saga became the first movie franchise to surpass one million Twitter followers this month.

Keeping Your Tweenbase Happy
How’d they do it? Simple engagement techniques to keep their tweenbase happy, including “exclusive” sneak peaks of footage, new soundtrack listings, sweepstakes and savvy hashtag strategies.

According to Mashable, around the New Moon movie release, there were about 81,000 Twilight tweets per day. And, with the final installment arriving in theaters this November, fans and followers can anticipate an assortment of teasers, infobits and content.

To celebrate, Summit released a brief, and surprisingly washboard-abs-free video on YouTube to thank its loyal fans (below), and encouraged its stars to use the hashtag #Twihards4EVER to commemorate the achievement.

Perspective: The Bloody Truth
Before we give up hope for humanity, invest in garlic futures or resort to stakes through our digital-social hearts, rest assured that @Twilight doesn’t even breach the top 1,000 most followed accounts. Not by a long shot.

Top Five Tweeters (by followers)
1. Lady Gaga, 28.5 million
2. Justin Bieber, 26.8 million
3. Katie Perry, 25.2 million
4. Rihanna, 24.5 million
5. Britney Spears, 19.6 million

Even @BobVila has more followers (1.1 million), ranking in at number 969.


Follow me on Twitter: @jonbeebe

Extra Credit: If Twitter had been around in your childhood and tweens, what franchises should have reached the million followers mark first, and why? Leave a comment.

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Pink

From the Underbelly
Courtesy of Reddit’s front page, this video is sure to make its way to a newsfeed near you. Currently view-capped at 318 views, I expect it to pick up steam rather quickly. But first, some context:

Increase Your “Social” Vocabulary, from Urbandictionary.com

Frape [freyp]. noun, verb
A combination of the words ‘Facebook’ and ‘Rape.’ The act of Raping someones Facebook profile when they leave it logged in. Profile pictures, sexuality and interests are commonly changed, however fraping can include the poking or messaging of strangers from someone else’s Facebook account.

“Dude, did you see Jonny’s Facebook profile, someone fraped him big time.”

Fun, no? But, for me, there was something slightly “off” about the video, and it wasn’t the not-so-subtle placement of an adult toy & condom juxtaposed against the decor of a stereotypical young girls room. Or the offensive Justin Bieber poster…

Wait, was that a Durex condom?!

Marketing Paranoia
While I found myself anticipating the reveal, and smirking along the way, I kept expecting extremely subtle marketing messages for a brand of paint, or a new home renovation show to launch on HGTV later this year. Was I being duped as I watched?

Clearly my “social” cynicism or marketing paranoia at play. How many times have we fallen victim to clever marketers using unbranded content to draw us in, and make us pay attention? Read my previous post to see how lightly-branded content can build a product’s brand >

In my opinion, the real “advertisement” wasn’t so subtle, appearing in the video’s YouTube description. Tall Tales, a clearly savvy production company in the Netherlands, specializing in documentaries and commercials put this video together. I suspect their website traffic will spike today, and for weeks to come.

Regardless of the producer’s intentions, pure entertainment or increased interest in their company, I wonder: will consumers ever tire from this type and quality of advertising? Doubtful. Personally, I’m too lazy to care.

LazinessRead the original Reddit thread >, with comments from the video’s creator.

Internet Gold: Strike a Pose and Let’s Get to It

From the Underbelly

March 14, 1992: In the northwest suburbs of Chicago, Shaun Sperling read from the Torah and became a Bar Mitzvah. Shaun chose quite an interesting theme to signify the religious celebration.

Posted six days ago, the video has already received 49,000 views on YouTube.

A Mountain (Dew) of a Train Wreck, Ragú: A Saucy Reward for Innocence Lost

Note: The views expressed on this blog are my own, and do not necessarily represent the views of my employer, its management, shareholders or employees.

Dub The Dew Mountain DewSpeaking candidly, I love a good marketing train wreck.

This includes my own crashes and blunders, as, in my career, I’ve paid more than my fair share of “tuition” for miscalculations with six to seven figure price tags.

For those in the digital marketing world, every action has a measurable reaction: from billions of impressions to individual clicks a consumer makes (or doesn’t make). For some, marketing online is more science than art. The vigorous testing, scoring, progress reports and report cards can be brutal to a marketer’s creative side. And, trust me, creative and media train wrecks are frequent – if you look at the numbers alone.

Measurement aside, for me, there’s something delicious and altogether captivating about awkward moments between marketers and consumers. On either side of the coin, it’s difficult to quantify that feeling of betrayal of trust, disappointment or “what the hell were they thinking” moment after experiencing an “off” ad or campaign.

While I think it’s important to examine a brand’s intention and objective when examining the wreckage of a botched campaign, online consumers have little incentive to care about such things beyond a simple comment or “Like” on a Facebook newsfeed about the event.

“Mountain Dew Just Lost the Internet”
In many cases, digital subcultures can take advantage of a brand’s digicultural naivete. Take Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen & Mountain Dew’s recent contest/name-game mishap: “Dub the Dew,” which fell victim to 4chan’s mischievous antics. Read the Time article >

Regardless of the level of appropriateness or decency, are we really shocked that names like “Hitler did nothing wrong,” “Moist Nugget,” “Fapple” or “Diabeetus” made the top of the socially/consumer generated list? The underbelly of the Web feeds off these types of situations, and was largely laughing at Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen & Mountain Dew. It was a pure demonstration of consumer dominance over brands in the online space. And, to me, it was amazing to behold.

In a statement, Mountain Dew has apologized to fans offended by the debacle, and quickly distanced itself from the campaign as executed.

“Dub the Dew,” a local market promotional campaign that was created by one of our customers—not Mountain Dew—was compromised. We are working diligently with our customer’s team to remove all offensive content that was posted and putting measures in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Mountain Dew has a legacy of engaging its most loyal fans to tap innovative ideas for the brand through really successful programs like “DEWMocracy” and “Your Malt Dew” and so we sincerely apologize to all of our fans who may have been offended by this customer’s program.”

Regardless, both the pizza company and Mountain Dew didn’t appear to anticipate or appreciate the reality of a digital truth: People do and say things online they would never do or say in the “real” world.

Sex & Spaghetti Sauce
Which, indeed, brings us to RL (real life, for the less nerdy). Ragu recently launched a commercial that made it’s way to my Facebook feed, accompanied by a “I can’t believe this is actually a commercial” comment or two, followed by several “WTF?!” responses.

This deliciously awkward moment brought to you by Ragu, proud sponsor of The Bedroom Olympics:

I don’t know about you, but I’ve suddenly got a hankerin’ for some pasta. And, perhaps some therapy to discuss my childhood.

This isn’t a Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake Halftime Special. This is Ragu directly associating mommy and daddy’s WWE Monday Night Raw wrasslin’ with their product. Exactly what a consumer wants to think about when enjoying pasta (note to mom: heavy sarcasm).

Honestly, I find the ad rather amazing and hilarious, in that wildly awkward-train-wreck kind of way. I applaud Ragu’s bravery and “Brand Building from Left Field” attempt, though I can’t help but notice the “what the hell” reaction many consumers are voicing across the social web.

My opinion? Leaving a consumer with an awkward feeling has a time and place, albeit infrequent and targeted. I think charities and non-profits often use this method (along with guilt) to their advantage, to move people beyond complacency toward action.

Regardless of where one falls with Ragu’s sexy spaghetti ad, it will certainly ignite the online landscape with thousands of comments, arguments and conversations. Millions of YouTube views aside, I know what many of us will be thinking about when we sit with family over a large plate of gluten-free pasta: Why didn’t Prego think of this?

Sesame Street Fighter vs Capcom, Part I

Note: This post is the first of a two part series. Part II will become available later this week.

Sesame Street FighterThis specimen, ladies and gentlegerms, has become one of my favorite recent finds. Combining two of the more formative elements of my childhood, gaming and PBS, Matt Crane, aka deviantART’s Gavacho13, has created a gamer cultural masterpiece.

Street Fighter 101
Street Fighter (ストリートファイター Sutorīto Faitā, for those who prefer Japanese) is a fighting series of video games in which its players pit competitive fighters from around the world, each with his or her own unique fighting style, against one another.

Since Street Fighter debuted in 1987, it has sold more than half a million arcade cabinets and exceeded 33 million units for home gaming systems (XBOX, PlayStation, etc.) globally. The second, and probably most popular edition, Street Fighter II, generated more than $1.5 billion for Capcom alone.

Gameplay was fairly straightforward. Players pick their fighter, or combination of fighters in some cases, to challenge another player or CPU (artificial intelligence) in a bloody brawl. The goal? Knock the lifeforce of your competitor to zero, rinse, repeat for the best of three rounds.

Button combinations on the controller or arcade would allow players to execute special moves, each unique and distinct for each of the fighter characters. The character variety made Street Fighter stand out from the rest of the arcade games. From Chun-Li, the beautiful and deadly female agent hellbent on revenge, to Blanka, the green-skinned man-beast who could electrocute the snot out of you, the diversity was far more appealing to a gamer than the more generic heroes from concurrent arcade games.

Shut Up & Take My Money >
At age 12, I’d bike daily to a local grocery store to return volumes of pop/soda cans, each refunding me a 10-cent deposit. Given the fact that my family was chemically dependent on Diet Coke, my weekly cash-in was quite respectable. I could easily pull in $20 to supplement my allowance, $100 if we hosted an after-school event.

Street Fighter DhalsimI’d immediately bike to the local 7-11, where I promptly fed my entire allowance and recyclable refund to the Street Fighter II machine. I primarily played as Chun Li, the fastest, most aeriel-oriented fighter with enormous thighs that could crush a man’s skull. Ryu, the silent warrior-type, or Dhalsim, the mystical yoga master who could breathe fire and extend his extremities to smack an opponent from afar were my backups.

I’d spend hours at 7-11, and was once asked to leave after a four-hour stay. I became quite good, and could easily defeat most challengers or the CPU. I even won a local tournament, but that’s a story for a future post.

While Street Fighter II may not have given birth to it, the game certainly stands as a milestone in the history of gamer trash talk. In the 90s, I typically played against players twice my age, and taunted them regularly. I also learned my fair share of curse words along the way – usually directed in my direction when Chun Li’s innocent victory laugh mocked their defeat at my hands. Watch Chun Li kick the crap out of other fighters >

Gamer Culture
At any rate, I wasn’t alone in my Street Fighter obsession. It became, and remains to be, an important part of gamer culture, including: reprehensible Hollywood films, fan fiction, comic books, clothing & costuming (see below), arts & crafts and more.

Street Fighter CosplayCulture Connection: Street Fighter, Digital Marketing Edition
For digital marketers, understanding Street Fighter and its cultural implications isn’t necessarily going to solve sales slumps. However, I believe tapping into gamer culture is key to reaching and connecting with people online. Gaming reaches more than just 12-year-olds. The average gamer is 37, and has been gaming for 12 years (note: a recent change in methodology has brought this age into question, finding 30 to be the average age). Of course, there are different types of gamers. Again, a future post for another day.

Play Angry Birds, Draw Something (heh, does anyone nowdays? That was quick.) or another gaming app on your phone? Congrats, you’re a gamer, too – let the trash talk begin.

Anyway, my point is this: What Crane has done with Sesame Street Fighter is brilliant. By combining themes from nostalgic cultural icons into a visual/artistic statements, his work connects to fans of both gaming and Kermit & Big Bird. It cuts through the clutter, and communicates to the core of its target audience – all without having to say a word. That, my friends, is the foundation for good, relevant marketing.

To be continued in Part II…

Julia Child Remixed

After the social success of its Mr. Rogers’ Garden of Your Mind Remix and Bob Ross’ Happy Little Clouds, and in celebration of what would be Julia Child‘s 100th birthday (Aug. 15), PBS Digital Studios has released a new autotuned tribute to the culinary legend. Just released as part of it’s “Icon’s Remixed” series, it’s currently capped at 302 views. Expect this to reach a few millions in days.

Online content development tip: When in doubt, use nostalgia, autotune or both.