If you haven’t yet read the debriefing of our foray into the similarities between animals’ evolution and memes, I suggest you take a quick look, and then come back as we embark on our first exploration. Today we’ll be looking at one creature whose evolution parallels a strategy marketers have used for ages: strike while the iron is hot.
The Cane Toad – As far as amphibious Anura go, the Cane Toad has perhaps the most notorious reputation. First introduced to Australia in 1935 to combat pests interfering with crops and farmland, the toad handled its job with aplomb, and then some; after practically decimating the indigenous snake and lizard wildlife, the Cane Toad did the last thing Aussies hoped it would – reproduce.
As a species, Cane Toads move faster than their frog brethren, but have a shorter lifespan. Their reproductive cycle adapted to account for their environmental and evolutionary factors in a process known as spacial sorting. Natural selection, though still in play, runs parallel to this spacial sorting: the Cane Toads “pool of potential mates is determined by their ability to cover ground”, allowing for increased breeding in a shorter time-frame. For these toads, survival of the fittest takes a backseat to survival of the fastest.
Type of Meme: Branded Meme
Like a female Cane Toad whose biological clock is ticking, brands hungrily search for a meme that can gain traction quickly, even if the meme itself has a short lifespan. A brand can “reproduce” (distribute) on the back of a popular meme, even if that meme won’t survive for long; the vehicle for its reproduction is less important than the reproduction itself. A great example of this is Shit Yogi’s Say by Lululemon.
Surely we all remember those 5 minutes where every profession, college major, and religious denomination had a “Shit ___ Say” video. Though this particular meme had a short lifespan, its survival didn’t matter – the meme was merely a tool for a brand like Lululemon to “reproduce”. They even managed to maintain brand equity while also capturing the essence of the meme. Making fun of your client base while endearing them is hard, but Lululemon, like the Cane Toad, managed to succeed and reproduce, before its time was up.
There are plenty more evolutionary anomalies between animals and meme’s. Check back soon as we next discover how one fish was spamming the ocean floor long before there was an inbox.