Yesterday I was going through my Red Plum mailer to see if there were any coupons I could use. So while flipping the pages I was surprised to see a cat food ad and coupon featuring grumpy cat in a meme. Low and behold Grumpy Cat is a Friskies cat, and is featured all over their site, ads, and Facebook.
Now there really isn’t anything particularly wrong with me seeing grumpy cat in this light, but what was odd to me was the use of a internet focused cultural reference in something we refer to as dying, print media. Now one could argue that its use in print is a way to try to bring in the king of the day, internet culture, into print to try to “save” it. While I think that has something to do with it I don’t think its the whole story. Why? Well, because I see it not just in print but elsewhere as well; sandwich boards, grocery signs over meat, etc.
Has internet culture, memes, references, hashtags become something that we also have invited to our real lives? Why? One could argue that with how much our lives have been spent online that it was the obvious conclusion that people start using these references in an attempt to stay relevant. I think its less sinister than that, I think its a natural progression just like anything cultural. “In real life” is the last stop on cultural relevance these days and possibly shows that this reference is near death.
Meme’s are something in particular that I have noticed really hold a half life or an expiration date in terms of the influencers that create them deeming them as being relevant and current. Those who consider themselves as being internet literate and up to date will tell you if a meme is old, and therefore no longer a significant piece to the culture. When a meme passes on to being used on Facebook I have noticed it really hits a wall and then becomes shortly there after, acceptable to use in print or IRL. In a sense it becomes “mainstream” and well as my husband would put it “that has been around for forever, meh”.
So I guess my real question is, or really the point of me bring this up is… does this help the company or user or does it hurt them? I think it shows an attempt to be conformist and referential, but if you really want to be current then you have to find a meme that hasn’t expired in terms of its pertinence. This takes a lot more work though and I have noticed that in protest of this some companies have actually just attempted to create their own memes instead. Which works for some but very very few actually find it to be successful. So is there a point to its use that denotes a sort of movement towards our online lives being just as important as our “real lives”? Or is its use a bit more of a nod of obedience towards our ruler in terms of communication? I think we may have just accepted that the internet has truly become a force to be reckoned with.
What do you think? How do you respond to the use of internet culture in print and in real life?