My dog is a meme. And it wasn’t created by me.
I got a text message early one morning from my sister-in-law, Toni, saying that Haley, my hilarious boxer dog, had been made into a meme. When Toni had come into work that morning, her co-worker quickly ushered her over to look at a funny dog meme that popped up on her Facebook page. My sister-in-law, well aware of this famous (in our circle of friends) photo of my dog, freaked out when she saw Haley’s familiar face (and the familiar leg of my husband in the background). To prove that this is my dog, here is a screenshot from Haley’s Facebook profile—note that the profile image matches the meme below–although the original image was from when she was 4, and she is now 11:
The meme was posted on the Facebook page for The Flower of Life and Sacred Geometry—random, I know. And it wasn’t me or my husband who wrote the meme’s text. So far, the meme has 423 likes and 281 shares. Not bad for my dog Haley! A budding superstar. I of course was elated, bragging about her all over the office for about 20 minutes. Apparently, many of my co-workers said that they had seen this picture elsewhere.
But how did this photo get out there? According to my husband, he had posted the photo in Reddit a while ago, where it got shared and then picked up by The Flower of Life and Sacred Geometry. Will Haley turn into the next grumpy cat? That, of course, remains to be seen.
Amid all of my day dreaming about how Haley was going to be the next big internet animal (I really want to go to SXSW), I got to thinking—how are viral internet memes made? So I dug in a bit to find out the origins of some of my favorite internet animals.
The Origins of Grumpy Cat
Maybe the most famous internet animal is Grumpy Cat, or Tardar Sauce, as her owner originally named her. On her official website, I learned that, much like my Haley photo, her image was posted on Reditt one fateful day. What attracted the attention of a worldwide audience of rabid cat fans? Her grumpy-looking expression, of course! People on Reditt commented that the photo must be photoshopped, which people also thought about my Haley meme, and her owners posted a barrage of Youtube videos in response. Before they knew what hit them, Grumpy Cat was off and running.
In fact, she is so viral and shareable, her Facebook page has 1,237,246 likes and 519,451 people talking about her. Pretty amazing. She has so many fans that she has also been the subject of many tattoos.
My dog Haley also has her own tattoo of her as a Ninja on my husband’s arm. Not really a viral following, but certainly a start.
The Fame of Maru Cat
And then there is Maru Cat. He is more of a Youtube celebrity and has been around since 2007, but he’s iconic nonetheless. He even has a Wikipedia page, and his claim to fame is his love of boxes. Take a look at this video—it has 17,984,322 views on Youtube. I mean, who doesn’t love a cute cat jumping into boxes? His owner Mugumogu is very under the radar, so Maru’s Facebook pages are manned by fans—and he has a few unofficial pages. His top page, Maru the Cat has 123,826 likes. Maru has become famous much on his own, since his owner doesn’t do any marketing except to post his videos on Youtube. He has been in Entertainment Weekly and The New York Times, and his videos have been featured on a Fresh Step kitty litter commercial.
Maru may not have any documented tattoos that I could find, but he has a ton of fan art dedicated to his likeness.
Boo the World’s Cutest Dog
And then there is Boo, who has been termed “The World’s Cutest Dog” by rabid fans of the Boo empire. A nice change of pace from the world of cat domination, Boo has a significant place in the world of viral internet animal memes. According to Boo’s website, www.boothedog.net, his owner put Boo on Facebook with the hopes of becoming a famous internet meme. His owner meticulously took hundreds of photos of Boo, posed in a cornucopia of cute outfits befitting of the Pomeranian. And, well, his owner was right. Boo is an empire, complete with 7,435,471 likes on his Facebook page.
Boo also has his own line of stuffed animals made in his likeness. Take a look at one of his stuffed animals which has 292 customer reviews on Amazon. All 5 stars. Not too shabby.
What Can We Learn?
There is lots to be gleaned from these examples in the marketing world. First, fuzzy animals rule the internet! If you don’t believe us, be sure to check out our meme Kittens and Bacon. In all seriousness, shareability and virality can rarely be forced. It takes the right image, at the right time, with the right message to become loved by millions. Some of the greatest social marketing campaigns appeal to the emotions of the reader, and all of them are shareable.
So will Haley dog become the next biggest thing? The jury is still out. But it’s fascinating that she even got shared by one person other than myself. Who knew? Clearly, she has what it takes to become viral—a funny image that resonates with hundreds that people want to engage with and share.