If a picture’s worth a thousand words, and a video is worth 1.8 million, then what’s a meme worth? In 2016, they surpassed Jesus Christ in Google search rankings, if that says anything. (This year they’re still about even.) Religion aside, we like them a lot.
At Don’t Think Productions, the content side of the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB), we’ve launched Memes On Demand, a production service that creates memes for brands and ad agencies that need funny content, fast. What’s a meme worth? Ask UCB Comedy Creative Director Nate Russell and Chief Meme Maker Ben Marshall.
What is Memes on Demand?
Nate: We've been trying to find ways to activate UCB writers for digital opportunities in a lot of different ways. And, one of the things that keeps coming up is that agencies and brands have this audience that they need to engage with content on a regular basis via social media.
So, with this need to feed that social media beast, we put together a program that serves those brands and agencies with funny shareable content for their social platforms by using our network of UCB writers, who have got millions of funny jokes to get out there. Ben can speak to what he's been doing; he's been the conduit those jokes go through and the ones that get bought and distributed on the brands' feeds, where those two sides meet.
Ben: We basically serve as matchmaker between comedians and brands.
Why do you think companies are looking for more "fast" content?
Ben: Content in the moment is funnier and more relevant. Audiences expect it. So we provide rapid-response, quick-turnaround items like GIFs based off events or happenings, or new trends in pop culture. I think people are definitely looking for stuff like that. Sometimes it’s challenging for brands make this content themselves.
Nate: We also typically plan content based on future events like the Oscars, or holidays, or the World Series. This way we can work a couple of weeks or days ahead at all times with events that we know are going to happen.
Ben: We know, “This event is going to happen, let's have some jokes ready for that.” And then we also look to account for things like the outcome of an event, which is not controllable. The great part about having active groups of writers is that you can sort of turn quickly and go, "Are there pitches for this?" And so many of our writers have ideas, because we're all participants in that news cycle. We look for the pieces that we know a client wants, and then we are flexible enough to respond in real time.
Can you tell me more about how you work with UCB writers?
Ben: Based on those calendar events or client requests, we'll come up with joke prompts and send them out to our network of over 100 writers. They, in turn, come back with jokes and concepts. We pick the best ones and send them over to the client for feedback. The client then greenlights the jokes and approaches they want, and we create the GIFs or graphics to accompany them. It’s efficient.
Nate: And we tapped into a tool called Pitch, developed by Matt Klinman, who's a UCB writer and now works at Funny or Die. It enables us to reach our network quickly and for them to turn around jokes.
Ben: UCB stands for a certain brand of comedy and certain quality of comedy. There's so many people inside this community that we can always find a comedic voice that matches with the objective of a brand partner. We can tap mom comedians, comedians who know sports, comedians who cook. At UCB, we not only have the humor, but expertise with any given subject matter.
Is there a dream company that you would want to collaborate with?
Nate: We're really excited about building a slate of opportunities and a stable of brands that to really maximize that writers network. I think that for the writers, It’s exciting to work to with brands in home goods, movies, automotive and tech, etc. We’re a really good fit for any brand that wants to take some comedic risks.