Senator Ed Markey’s Zoomer Standom
Few septuagenarian politicians have online coalitions of devoted Gen Z stans, but 74-year-old Massachusetts Senator and co-author of the Green New Deal Ed Markey sure does, and he just became the first person to defeat a Kennedy in Massachusetts election history. Because of his progressive politics and strong policies to combat climate change, groups of young people including the youth-led climate justice movement Sunrise endorsed Markey in the ways they know best: through memes, fancams, tweetstorms, TikToks, and other social media efforts.
While Markey’s campaign itself participated in culturally savvy digital media engagement, much of the hype around Ed came from the Markeyverse: a collection of unofficial social media accounts dedicated to campaigning for the senator. These efforts by young people, many of whom are in high school or college, demonstrate how the political power of Gen Z is intertwined with what they’re known for: social media and memes.
As this generation makes climate justice a priority, progressive candidates like Bernie Sanders, AOC, Cori Bush, and Jamaal Bowman appeal to their politics and aspirations for a future world. While Gen Z’s extremely online sensibilities are often overlooked as frivolous wastes of time, they’re proving that their social media expertise is a strength that goes beyond the digital sphere. As more Zoomers reach voting age, their voices will continue to have an impact. Politicians would be wise to listen to their demands, and to take their communication methods seriously. Although Markey’s victory can’t be attributed to memes or Gen Z support alone, his win came as he rose to icon-status among the young left, highlighting the political power that Zoomers hold.
The TikTok Campaign That Saved Earnings and The C-Level Memer
Updates on topics from:
The 3 Billion View TikTok Campaign from July 28th
In the July 28th Primer post we questioned the efficacy of TikTok ads when done correctly. Hollister had received 3+ billion views in only a few days by strategically and creatively executing TikTok’s largest awareness campaign to date. The question posed was will this awareness yield conversion, and just a few days ago we got our answer. ANF, the parent company of Hollister, reported a drop of only 17% sales year over the year, which is substantially lower than the 40%-60% drop that competitors are seeing during COVID, and it yielded a 30% increase in share price due to successful advertising. Do well executed TikTok campaigns work? Absolutely.
Updates on topics from:
Time for Brands to Evolve Meme Marketing from May 27
In the May 27th Primer post we suggested that brands do as SlimJim has done so successfully and actually own their memification. We’ve been seeing constant shifts toward since then with brands like Target using the shy emojis (👉🥺👈) or the 👁️👄👁️ meme, and even seeing Bud Light go as far as offering to hire a “Chief Meme Officer”. We’re quickly seeing brands shift their marketing to converse with their audience in a less serious, more natural way. Consumers are tired of over-the-top advertising and appreciate brands being self-aware of how they are perceived on the internet. Brands embracing the comedy that surrounds them and speaking to audiences in a more casual tone is the pivot that consumers actually appreciate and want to engage with.
Do you come here often?
— Target (@Target) March 2, 2020
OnlyFans & Bella Thorne: Are Celebrities Ruining Creative Spaces for Small Creators?
Bella Thorne’s recent entry and overnight success on OnlyFans is ruffling the feathers of numerous creatives. Within 24 hours, Thorne, who rose to fame as a teenager on Disney Channel’s Shake It Up, reportedly made over $2 million in revenue on the platform known for subscribers paying for exclusive NSFW content. Thorne did so without posing nude, but there are screenshots claiming she didn’t make her dollars honestly, and that she allegedly scammed her subscribers by promising to deliver nude photos after they payed $200.
Thorne joined the likes of other high-profile celebrities on the platform, including Cardi B, Blac Chyna, Swae Lee, Jason Derulo, and The Dream. Some believe Thorne’s success on the platform is damaging to small creators and sex workers who use the subscription-based website to make a living, especially during the pandemic.
Critics voiced their concerns, touting that celebrities with copious amounts of cash and large fan-bases shouldn’t be able to use their already large followings to essentially infiltrate creative spaces for regular people. Others zeroed in on the fact that as a celeb, Thorne won’t deal with the same stigma they do for making money in online sex work.
fucjing hell, celebrities just go into all the creative spaces normal people have engineered (podcasting, livestreams, newsletters, onlyfans) and completely take over. It’s just rich people eating up the market.
— Sophia Benoit (@1followernodad) August 26, 2020
It’s no secret that celebrities are able to drive their audiences to other platforms which can lead to more exposure, brand deals, sponsorships, and wealth added to their already large bank accounts.
Without a devoted fan-base, it takes smaller creators a lot more time to build loyal, big followings that can eventually turn into liveable income.
After Thorne made a killing on the website, other OnlyFans creators are reporting drastic changes on the platform which limits income: a $100 tip limit, $50 PPV (pay-per-view) message limit, and a 30 day payout period.
It took 48 hours for Bella Thorne to ruin things for us OF creators/SWs because she felt like playing a pretend SWer. She scammed her subs and will never face the consequences of doing so (while the rest of us deal with it) among the general stigma of being in this field. pic.twitter.com/68MxUyQwKH
— neptuneexplainsitall (@urwaifuneptune) August 28, 2020
Onlyfans girls waking up today to find out they ain’t getting paid till October cuz of Bella Thorne pic.twitter.com/kgJZ10HUbe
— Gamerstyle (@Gamerstyle808) August 28, 2020
i hope bella thorne never has a career ever again pic.twitter.com/dflxIdsFpN
— shelby (@cloudmyg) August 28, 2020
These new parameters will have major effects on smaller, lesser-known creators.
Some creators are undercutting celebrities’ OnlyFans earnings, whether intentional or not. YouTubers, who also make a living online, are creating videos about subscribing to a celebrities’ OnlyFans account, so the viewer doesn’t have to. There are videos on Cardi B, Blac Chyna, Rubi Rose, Tana Mongeau, Belle Delphine, and many more.
On Aug. 29, Thorne apologized to OnlyFans users in a series of tweets saying she: “wanted to bring attention to the site, the more people on the site the more likely of a chance to normalize the stigmas,” but “in this process I hurt you and for that I’m truly sorry.”
PT1 Remove the stigma behind sex, sex work, and the negativity that surrounds the word SEX itself by bringing a mainstream face to it that’s what I was trying to do, to help bring more faces to the site to create more revenue for content creators on the site.
— BITCHIMBELLATHORNE (@bellathorne) August 29, 2020
Thorne says she plans to meet with OnlyFans about the new restrictions. Whether she stays active on the platform remains to be seen. Thorne previously claimed she was going to make a movie about her OnlyFans experience with indie filmmaker Sean Baker, but that plan is no more.