virus: Just Meme It! (was: Will the real meme please stand up?)

Tim Rhodes (
Sun, 10 Aug 1997 22:25:38 -0700 (PDT)

On Fri, 8 Aug 1997, Brett Lane Robertson wrote:

> What about" <Nike>,< We Really Move our Tail For You>"? Is there a pattern
> where <Nike>, the shoe company, can become associated with <We Really Move
> our Tail For You> (from Continental Airlines)? Perhaps, with an ad
> campaign; but, with equal success?

That depends entirely on the campaign.

> What I'm trying to get at is the pattern
> which already exists in our minds concerning shoes and "doing it", first.
> And of what sort are these patterns, second.

Honestly, ***I*mean*HONESTLY!*** are you saying anyone (except an
advertising exec. working for Nike five years ago) associated "just do it"
with shoes *BEFORE* the advertising campaign!?!

I think you're doing a little revisionist history (or reverse engineering,
at best) here. **THAT ASSOCIATION WAS CREATED BY NIKE!** That you think
it pre-dates the ads just proves how pervasive the ads have been in your
consciousness. You can't conceive of a world *without* that association.
That's one damn good meme!!!

> *External*, I still say that the meme is <do it>, or even
> <do>, and "Nike" is just a word associated with this meme.

Right. But *both* are memes. If you want <just do it> is meme version
1.0 and <Nike, Just do it> is the upgrade, version 2.0 if you will. An
upgrade constructed (as they all are, really) to grab a larger market
share, in this case, for Nike. The <just do it> meme (1.0) was useful for
mothers telling the kids to take out the trash and sports trainers (the
*real* link Nike exploited), but it wasn't propagated as effectively
because no one /needed/ it to propagate. But when it was linked (by
design, remember) with a trademark, Nike(tm), the the new version (2.0,
<Nike, Just do it>) propagated like a rabbit in heat.

Why? Was 2.0 a /better/ meme?

Well, in an odd way, yes.

Not /better/ in format or content. Not /better/ in any stand-alone sort
of way at all. But rather, /better/ because the Nike trademark was driven
by a profit motive and an advertising budget.

Where version 1.0 had to count on individual contact (me saying it to you)
to spread, version 2.0 had the adaptive advantage (for a meme) of a
god-awful amount of money invested to spread it. An advertising campaign
that was the memetic equivalent of a blitzkrieg! It was more effective at
reproducing for the same reason docile cattle are reproduced more
effectively inthe West. Not because it's better for the meme's (or
cattle's) needs, but because it's a better adaption for the *environment*
they're in. And in both cases, *WE* are that environment -- humans who
want to make money from the meme or cow.

-Prof. Tim