Memes, Mind Share and Minimizing Public Space

Enjoy watching this wonderful video, before reading why I absolutely hate it:


Now I’ll do the unthinkable and quote myself:

The war over mind share rages on and in the very near future it would be impossible to leave your home without stumbling into an advertisement, and most of the time you won’t even know you’re in one.
   – – Shahar Golan, January 18, 2009

We are living in the age of ├╝ber-fast memes, where an idea in the real world can be documented and uploaded to YouTube, watched anywhere around the world, and ‘downloaded’ back to the real world in another country. The following timeline is just one example of how this ‘cultural virus’ can spread:

January 2008
Improv Everywhere does Frozen Grand Central.
February 2008
The original stunt is duplicated all over the globe. A world map of copycats is soon enough posted for easier tracking.
March 2008
Improv Everywhere performs an original musical stunt titled Food Court Musical in front of a small shopping mall audience.
April 2008
Television’s Law & Order: SVU incorporates a fictionalized Frozen Grand Central into an episode. Actor Robin Williams plays a fictional Charlie Todd.
January 2009
T-Mobile executes a ‘Thawed’ Frozen Grand Central, mixing the Food Court Musical stunt into it and rebranding it as The T-Mobile Dance. The video is the first successful commercialized version of the stunt.
March 2009
VTM, a Belgian television station executes a Sound-of-Music T-Mobile dance.

And the dance will continue…

The fact that Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music is one of my favourite musicals is irrelevant. For all I care Julie Andrews could have danced right there on Antwerp’s Central Station, holding hands with the entire Von Trapp family – it still would not change the fact that we are losing the war over mind share and over public spaces.

The 3D hologram shark ad that startles Marty McFly in Back to the Future’s 2015? The ads that personally address John Anderton in Minority Report’s 2054? Why wait for hi-tech advertising, when you can get stuck in a real world commercial today? Just try and catch a train in Antwerp, New York or Tel-Aviv in the near future.

Oh… and if you’re thinking of avoiding the train all together by driving to work, better think again: KFC logos will soon be sprayed all over the road.

You can read more on this subject in Kalle Lasn’s excellent book Culture Jam: How to Reverse America’s Suicidal Consumer Binge – And Why We Must.


Yes, I do realize that by blogging about it I add to the hype needed to perpetuate this phenomenon – but just like people printing books about the dwindling rainforests, there is just no other way of stopping this.

Wherever I Go Online, The Holocaust Comes With Me

I have previously addressed IP-based advertising and how it virtually never works in a tiny country like Israel. Lately, I have been seeing a lot of Holocaust related content popping on my screen while I am on YouTube or Facebook, and it gets to be quite annoying.

Holocaust related YouTube content - March 26, 2009You see, whenever anyone visits a website, there are certain details about them that are revealed automatically: their IP address, the browser they use, their screen resolution etc. Many websites do not bother to collect this information at all, while others use it for statistic purposes. A lot of websites, like Facebook in our case, show ads relevant to the visitor’s geographical location using an IP-to-city query.
Holocaust related Facebook ad - March 26, 2009Other website giants, like YouTube, are smart enough to suggest content relevant to the visitor’s location, based on the same mentioned query. All this is good and dandy, except lately everyone and their mother hopped on the user-generated content wagon, and the result for the average Israeli surfer is a bombardment of Holocaust related material, shoved in the face of every Tomer, Dikla or Ari.

Holocaust related YouTube content - April 1, 2009Now, I would understand if YouTube somehow got a hold of a list of neo-Nazis, and wanted to mess with their heads so that every time they visit YouTube they would get non-stop Yad Vashem survivor testimonials at the ‘Featured Videos’ section. That would be awesome, and might even prove to be a positive educational experience for a bigot or two.
Holocaust related Facebook ad - March 27, 2009It’s just that I don’t understand why the unsuspecting Israeli should get the same treatment. As a third-generation Holocaust survivor, I prefer not to be lectured about it whenever I search for the latest skateboarding dog shenanigans, thank you very much.