One brand has taken note of social media’s love of funny images and incorporated a popular internet meme into their own marketing strategy.

This week, Lipton Brisk ran a sponsored image on popular image sharing site Imgur.  With over 2 billion page views per month, Imgur hosts many of the hilarious photos your Facebook friends post to their timelines every day.

Lipton’s venture into memetic marketing is a modified version of “Scumbag Steve”.  Steve is up to his usual chicanery and this time he’s chugged your entire can of Lipton Brisk.  The caption: That’s Brisk Baby!

As a frequent visitor of Imgur (and by frequent visitor, I mean addict), I was curious about this co-opting of popular internet culture by a brand and its potential marketing benefits.

Risky Move or Bold Initiative?

Fastcompany’s Joe Berkowitz keenly summarizes both the upside and potential downsides of brands looking to utilize popular memes in an effort to boost their online marketing efforts.

“Considering the enviable viral half-life of most internet memes, and the engagement they tend to inspire, it’s only natural to expect advertisers to attempt to harness their power. But those who venture into branded meme territory are best advised to tread lightly–the audience potential for co-opting a beloved photoshopped image is exceeded only by the likelihood of turning that audience’s peals of laughter into snorts of derision.”


Imgur founder Alan Schaaf has noted that Imgur’s audience “has always hated ads”.  With that in mind, what was the reaction to Mekanism’s (the agency behind the image) Lipton/Scumbag Steve initiative?  Looking at Twitter reactions, it appears to have gone over reasonably well.

It’s too soon to tell just how effective the branded Scumbag has been, however, word has it that Lipton is planning on launching another branded meme in the near future.

We want to hear from the Radian6 audience, which we know consists of many digital strategists and marketing enthusiasts.  What do you think of this co-opting of memes by brands? Pointless? Genius? Will it become a “thing” moving forward?  Are they other examples of brands co-opting popular memes for marketing purposes? Tell us about in our comments section. For the Imgur community’s reaction, check out the original image here