What’s in a meme? A look at Gucci’s newest ad campaign

Anyone who uses social media is familiar with the concept of memes. But, no one expected to see memes created and published by an esteemed high-end retailer in lieu of a traditional ad campaign.

According to Google, a meme is “a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.” Earlier this month, luxury brand Gucci began utilizing memes to advertise their newest campaign, dubbed #TFWGucci. (For those of you who are not social media savvy, “TFW” is an acronym meaning “the feel when.”)

A scroll through Gucci’s Instagram profile (@gucci) reveals a slew of popular memes repurposed and aimed at its luxury consumers. Many followers were slightly shocked to see Gucci’s memes on their Instagram feeds.

After all, “it’s kind of a well-known fact that the fashion world, particularly the luxury goods industry, has been slow to adopt technology. And then it moved at a snail’s pace to get on social media,” according to Dash Hudson, a company that focuses on Instagram return on investment (ROI) for many big-name brands.

“Luxury labels have been getting by on these platforms thanks to name recognition, but as Instagram evolves and various content trends come and go, it is indeed becoming increasingly imperative for them to start shifting their thinking toward devising social-first strategies.”

By implementing this unique strategy, Gucci instantly set itself apart from its competitors, who do not keep up with social media content trends, such as memes.

“A lot of luxury brands don’t really appear to have a concise social strategy in place and just go about it according to their HQ’s marketing activities,” Dash Hudson continues.

Luxury fashion brands tend steer clear of mainstream trends, on social media or otherwise, in order to maintain their aloof, exclusive personas. So, it is no surprise that it came as, well, a surprise, with the Italian fashion house took on the quirky trend full-force.

[source: Dash Hudson]
The second post of Gucci’s entire meme campaign features a watch showing through a torn suit sleeve, captioned “When you got that new watch and have to show it off.”

With an engagement rate of 1.34 percent, according to Dash Hudson, this post sits in second place among the Gucci account’s top 4 highest performing posts of all time–second only to another #TFWGucci post. The third and fourth place posts are not associated with this campaign.

Gucci’s highest performing post of all-time, by a margin of .21 percent, is a close-up shot of a female model adorned with what appears to be Gucci-inspired temporary tattoos. Her hand and face are covered in drawn-on tags: an Instagram feature used to identify who’s who in a given picture.

“The top 2 memes from the campaign actually became [Gucci’s] top 2 most engaged posts of all-time, dethroning [a snapshot of] the Obamas,” according to Dash Hudson.

[source: Dash Hudson]
Followers are obviously responding well to this unconventional ad campaign, but, like the old phrases says, no good deed goes unpunished. Or, in this case, uncriticized. Fashion enthusiasts all over the world took to social media (of course) to speak out on Gucci’s new campaign.

“I’m not upset that Gucci is making memes now. I’m upset because the memes are bad,” @robesman writes via Twitter.

“These Gucci memes are not funny [and] really not relatable,” adds @erikabowes.

“I’m sure it sounded dope when they were brainstorming, but Gucci’s meme campaign is one of the lamest things I’ve ever seen,” @Sipho_Says writes.

Still, some fans of the brand are unsure how they feel about its new ad campaign.

“Gucci made itself a meme account, and I can’t decide if I love it or hate it,” @rubykburns tweets.

Teen Vogue employees face backlash after making racist remarks on Twitter

Teen Vogue employees Lara Witt and Lauren Duca are under scrutiny after posting racially insensitive and downright hateful remarks on Twitter. On March 18, Witt (@Femmefeministe) wrote, “Also white people are evil. Whiteness is evil.”

Duca’s (@laurenduca) remarks came nearly a year earlier when she wrote, “Friendly reminder that there’s an uneven playing field, and straight, white men are generally trash,” on May 27, 2016. Both Witt and Duca have verified Twitter accounts.

[source: Twitter user @Femmefeministe]
[source: Twitter user @laurenduca]
Teen Vogue’s website lists Witt as an author and Duca as a weekend editor. While both face a ton of backlash via Twitter from Teen Vogue fans and critics alike (more on that later!), Heat Street noticed something suspect about Witt in particular. In an article titled “Feminist writer Lara Witt’s very un-woke Twitter history,” Joe Simonson points out several cases in which the Teen Vogue author spewed highly hypocritical sentiments.

“Witt is a master at this social justice warrior pastime…When she’s not writing riveting columns at publications like Teen Vogue entitled ‘What I learned from DAPL protestors as a woman of color,’ or ‘Stop weaponizing ciracial children,’ at Wear Your Voice Magazine she’s letting the internet know just how terrible everybody and everything is,” Simonson writes.

“But what about Witt herself?  Has she always acted with the same kind of purity she demands from others?”

When it comes to body shaming, a concern among feminists, Witt is guilty of it herself.

Per Heat Street, Witt tweeted, “Nothing bothers me more than ignorant people who think they’re smart. Well, that and fat people who take up [two] seats [on] the bus,” on April 12, 2011.

A little over a year later, Witt wrote, “The number of women in Philly that are in their early 20s and overweight is alarming. #America.”

Witt also took to Twitter to criticize a man’s outfit choice on a city street: “Come on, dude, it’s the city, put on some fucking shoes and decent attire. Fat, lazy American,” she wrote on May 30, 2012. She also included a snapshot of the man and his friend, which they clearly did not know was being taken.

[source: Twitter user @Femmefeministe via Heat Street]
Slut-shaming is another hot button issue about which feminists preach ad nauseam. Of course a social justice warrior and liberal like Witt would never participate in such misogynistic behavior–at least, that is what she wants her followers to believe.

On January 4, Witt tweeted, “You’re shamed for any sense of sexual agency and pleasure. I can’t tell you how many times I was called a whore when I was only 18.”

Simonson notes, “What about dangerous and violent gendered language against women? Surely someone like Lara would never slut-shame, right? It’s not like she’s specifically written articles attacking people who slut shamed Kim Kardashian.”

But, five years earlier she slut-shamed a fellow woman. “Wait, what?! #KimKardashian only got married for publicity? What groundbreaking news. I didn’t know she wasn’t an attention whore,” Witt wrote on October 31, 2011.

According to Simonson, “[Witt] at least she recognizes the problematic nature of using the word crazy, right?  She frequently writes columns centered around mental health and wellness.”

Not exactly. On September 15, 2011 she tweeted, “Hearing this woman’s bed bug issue while [on] the bus is driving me crazy.”

Lastly, Witt took to Twitter not once, but twice to bash “fat, male, slutty Jews,” according to Simonson.

“I find it despicable that some Jewish figures are decrying rockets being launched at them. Israel has the means to protect itself,” she tweeted on July 29, 2014.

In response to her own tweet, Witt also wrote, “Gaza has no way to protect itself from the very government that has kept it handicapped for years. Gaza is oppressed; Israel is a terrorist.”

But, let’s get back to backlash both Witt and Duca are currently facing on the social media platform. In a March 19 tweet highlighting both aforementioned racist remarks by the two Teen Vogue employees, an account called Tennessee (@TEN_GOP) wrote, “Hey @TeenVogue, care to comment on blatant racism from your employees?” Teen Vogue has yet to respond publicly.

@AM_Gwynn responds, “@TEN_GOP @TeenVogue Perhaps this needs the attention of a hate crime agency?” and “This should go viral. Teen Vogue prefers protecting real racists over profit and reputation? This is not acceptable.

@PrettyFru writes, “@TEN_GOP @TeenVogue I’m just about to my limit with this hypocrisy! Never be apologetic for being ANY color–it wasn’t your choice.”

@jtoufas says, “@TEN_GOP @TeenVogue, “Both of these tweets sound ignorant. Why does the color of skin mean anything?”

Lastly, @indigoblue65 writes, “@TEN_GOP @TeenVogue Shocked you’re allowing such hateful, racist people to write for such an influential [magazine] for teens!”

That’s not all, though. A simple search for Witt or Duca’s account on Twitter’s app or website yields a ton of criticism aimed directly at the young writers.