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The Selfish Meme


Do you ever find yourself stopping for a second to wonder about the strange resurrection of Craig David?

Is there a modern phenomenon that has been allowed to get as out of hand as his inexplicable, phoenix-like rise from the smouldering ashes of early 00s cultural detritus? There’s no denying that he was once a fairly recognisable face in the who’s who of celebrities with fame limited exclusively to inside the UK – but Ms Dynamite isn’t selling out nights at the O2, and you don’t see Artful Dodger commanding third-down billing at major festivals in 2017.

Craig David has something that neither of those other names, both big names in their own right once upon a time, can bring to table – Craig David is a human meme. He exists now as an accumulation of all the jokes people made about his faint air of naffness at the time. He has transcended physical form and become a unit of pure information – a shared joke and cultural reference point for an entire generation.

Craig David’s meme-ified form is, in fact, the driving factor behind his comeback, rather than the main obstacle standing in its way. An army of people who vaguely remember the Bo’ Selecta ‘Craaaaiiig David’ voice have kept him in the public consciousness in a way that Daniel Bedingfield or So Solid Crew can only dream of. The very thing that stopped him from being taken seriously the first time round has become a more powerful marketing tool than any dreamed up by design.

Nostalgia is a powerful trend, not only in music, but in large parts of culture in general – who would have guessed even ten years ago that by 2017 you’d be able to watch brand new Crystal Maze, Robot Wars and Twin Peaks? But the truth is that Craig David’s meme fuelled revival has been notable because of its rarity – marketers resorting to memes to try and appeal to internet-raised youths is usually pretty unsuccessful.

Either they use the meme wrongly and end up looking like someone’s middle-aged dad at a teenage house party, or else they attempt to employ the sort of meme where the entire appeal rests on the its existence outside of mainstream cultural understanding. By the time it’s trickled up to the level where it’s even visible to people outside of the original bubble, it’s dead and buried. The reason Harambe lasted longer than most other memes was that it existed just far enough over the line of poor taste that it was incapable of being repeated properly outside of the irony-heavy fringes of the internet.

Attempts to custom engineer memes, or to try and piggyback existing ones for marketing purposes, fail to understand the very thing that caused their spread in the first place. The key part of Craig David’s memeified success is that it happened organically – he had to suffer the slings and arrows of people thinking he was a bit of a joke before he could stage his frankly rather baffling comeback as the genuine article.

The internet may have provided vast, unprecedented opportunities for organisations and companies to spread their message to huge audiences, but it would seem that memes, like text-speak before them, are best left in the wild.

AUTHOR
SPOTLIGHT

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Plus 1 Communications

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