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What a Grumpy Cat Infographic Can Teach us About Marketing

by Frank Strong

Grumpy Cat

I had fun once…it was horrible.

Memes are big business.  If there’s any doubt a quick search of the web shows the meme phenomenon color the web, or litter it, depending on your perspective.

Marketers have taken note too.  People like pictures and people like quotes – if we put the two together we might be on to something.  If it’s truly funny or fascinating or witty, we just might see it “go viral.”

In the world of memes, Grumpy Cat is a big business.  Google displays her in the knowledge graph and she’s got her own Wikipedia page, which is apparently so coveted, PR firms will do anything for editing rights.


The Path to Mainstream

Even Marketplace, the mainstream business show produced by American Public Media, did a story back in June of this year on Grumpy Cat:

One of the most famous Internet memes, Grumpy Catjust signed a movie deal. “How do you not make money off cats on the internet? Come on,” says Ben Lashes, her agent.

“Grumpy cat is one of my newer clients,” says Lashes. He says he saw pictures of the cat online.  Tardar Sauce is her real cat name.

“I didn’t jump on it first day or anything ambulance-chasey or anything like that,” Lashes explains.

He signed a deal with the cat’s owner after he realized he was charmed by the cat.

As the Marketplace host frequently sighs, “You cannot make this stuff up,” and today the Social Times added another notch in the cat collar of objectives:  an infographic.


A Grumpy Cat Lesson in Viral

Going viral is a usually a marketing pipe dream, where a steady consistent strategy is a more realistic and measurable goal. Yet when it does happen it often seems as it “viral” happened overnight.

This is a misperception as Grumpy Cat underscores.  The meme was “born” in April of 2012 and didn’t go “viral” until September the same year when it gained traction on Reddit.  That was roughly six months later.

 

Big Business of Memes

One logical question is — does a picture of a grumpy cat move the business needle?  That may depend on what you’re selling, but even less cuddly subjects have funny memes.  As the infographic notes, Grumpy Cat earned a “lifetime achievement award” from Friskies, which reportedly inked a deal with the cat to be a spokesperson.

Marketplace’s Kai Ryssdal chided the cat for selling out:

Anyway, Grumpy Cat now has a major endorsement deal. It’s going to be the ‘spokescat’ — I am not making this up — for Friskies.

It’s just the latest in quite a run for a cat: A movie deal, a New York Times bestseller, merchandise.

A sell out Kai, really?  It’s a cat.  Now here’s the infographic:

grumpy cat infographic

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