Marketers Turn to Meme Accounts for Humor, News and Group Therapy

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by Anna Munhin Feb 1, 2023 News
Marketers Turn to Meme Accounts for Humor, News and Group Therapy

Advertising meme account @digital_chadvertising started out as a way for industry workers to voice their frustration, connect with each other and share marketing news.

The account's creator said he was in his bathroom on New Year's Day, recovering from partying the night before. He created a handle to poke fun at his work overseeing digital ad buys.

A parody of everything from industry jargon to the recent advertiser exodus has gained over 80,000 followers on the social media platform. That doesn't match the following of the leading ad trade publications, but it beats those of large ad-agency networks.

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I didn't think it would be this way. The creator of the #digital_chadvertising meme said that his meme was weaponized for attention deficit disorder.

A meme is a collection of images or short videos, often drawn from pop-culture properties like "The Office."

Dozens of similar accounts have emerged in recent years in the marketing world, with each hoping to create a sense of community among entry-level staffers and CMOs alike by offering an unvarnished look at the mundane work that consumes marketers' waking hours

Industry veterans run most of the accounts. Some prefer formats that don't fit the strict definition of a meme, but still use the meme world's sardonic tone to target an industry niche Account runners say they need to hide their identities to protect their careers and privacy. They say anonymity can increase the appeal of their accounts.

Some creators don't keep their identity a secret. "I think I found a good balance of being funny and making fun of things without feeling like I need to be anonymous."

Agency leaders have sent direct messages asking for her opinions on the latest ads, which include in-jokes and discussions of campaigns from big brands.

The accounts have grown to be part of your day-to-day reading.

— Matt Barash, senior vice president of the Americas and global publishing at Index Exchange

As they gain more attention, some accounts have moved beyond the often crude humor of meme to begin sharing real-time information about news events, like service outages at major platforms and recent layoffs at GroupM. He has posted conflicting claims about these events and he doesn't fact-check industry staffers' claims before posting them.

The online activity has caught the attention of industry leaders.

Matt Barash, senior vice president of the Americas and global publishing at Index Exchange Inc. said, "These accounts have grown to become part of your day-to- day reading the same way the industry trades have." They share takes on stories before the trades happen.

The struggles of career ad-agency employees are documented by the agencyprobs.

There are holes in ad-tech's jargon and feminism in the agency world.

The brands have been brought into the discussion. The company responded, "We know our ads are a lot and we're working to improve the experience."

A Venmo spokeswoman called the joke "factual inaccurate" after USA Today published a fact-checking article in which they said the joke was fake.

There are accounts that court controversy. The belief that pro bono ads advocating for stricter gun control can have any effect on gun violence is mocked in one of the accounts.

One of the two women who run the account said that the fun ones got people angry.

The meme activity can overlap with their day jobs.

The line between meme and work is very thin. He asks marketers for technical advice. He said that followers helped him understand whether other buyers were changing their strategies in the wake of the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Many of the creators earn modest income from sponsored posts that promote ad-tech and business-to-business software companies.

Mickey Taylor, an agency creative director who several years ago outed himself as the co- founder of genre pioneer Adweak, turned his Onion-style parody posts into Adweak Studio, which develops content for brands. There is an e-commerce store that sells hoodies and sweatshirts embellished with fictional job titles.

The accounts can be used to find jobs.

After seeing her TikToks, Ms. Rutstein decided to leave her full-time agency job and start her own business.

The attention has surprised some meme makers.

He said his job is to help a large business manage its ad-tech operations and often involves meetings with executives from major tech platforms.

He said that they don't know who he is and that they sent him a message saying "Oh wow this industry is broken". I'm like, 'Oh, my God, I know.' Don't talk to you on Monday.

Patrick Coffee can be reached at patrick. coffee@wsj.com.

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