Or is it already happening?
Check out this image-
At first glance, just an innocent meme. May have even made you chuckle.
But when you really think about it. There is a clear issue at hand.
Who made this meme? Where did it come from? You really have no idea. There a couple plausible theories, you’ve probably already thought of a couple yourself.
- This is nothing but a quality, wholesome meme. Someone silly made it and thought it was funny. You agree. Nothing to see here.
- This is made by Totino’s. They have studied the model that is the modern “meme” and replicated it while remaining purposefully honest in their intentions to monetize memes. Likely with the aid of unpaid interns.
- This is a dank meme. A lowlife created it under the guise as wholesome, but in reality it is more closely aligned with surrealism. At an even deeper level the created may have intended it to appear sponsored.
The answer is likely option number 2.
And on the surface that seems fine and reasonable. They are just having fun and catching the modern wave while connecting with customers, right? Wrong. Totino’s is toeing a VERY dangerous line.
Now believe it or not, but the word meme has been around for a long long time-
Meme = Element of a culture
Think about it. Meme’s go viral and change our society. But not in a controlling way. That is because Memes are not bought out, they are not corporately sponsored. The content that is created is actually derived from a common perspective. It makes it true art. And art imitates life just as much as life imitates art. This is what a meme truly is, all societies have them. Ours just happen to be images on screens that we tag our friends in.
So why is this an issue?
Take our Totino’s example from above. At first glance we had three plausible options to it’s origin. I mean, look at it, aesthetically it looks identical to the memes cooked up by 19 year olds on Reddit and Instagram (the ones who fail to monetize memes, thus keeping it real).
This is coming from a meme that’s meant to be transparently corporately sponsored (I think?) I really don’t know! And therein lies the problem… This one was likely a Totino’s campaign. A meme campaign. But it is innocent, we can tell rather quickly it’s sponsored.
But they got damn close. It looks just like a regular meme, they did they’re God damn homework and I’m equally impressed as a I am terrified. It is even kind of funny!
Why am I terrified? If you haven’t put the pieces together, this would bring advertising to golden years it hasn’t seen since subliminal messaging on the TV sets. Memes imitate life, life imitates memes. What is advertisers found a way to sneak in, product place so organically that we were fooled. Fooled into thinking we were imitating the memes that were imitating us. But in reality, we were imitating memes that were imitating the plans of a third party. If corporate advertisers found a way to secretly monetize memes, the world would never be more fake.
My only silver lining on this- I’m not sure advertisers will ever find a way to organically sneak into our memes. Unless they really pull some next level revolutionary shit I tend to believe there will always be some sort of tell.
But mark my words they will try. Oh they will try…