#249: Memes pt. 2

🤪 Don't fight them, embrace them

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Memes, Memes, Memes

A couple weeks ago, I came across this post from Sisyphus, a crypto trader and influencer:

I haven’t been in crypto and web3 that long, but wading in the trenches the past couple of years made this observation resonate with me. If we take a look at some of the top memecoins from the last cycle vs. some of the top and up-and-coming from this one:

I’m not going to do an exercise comparing and contrasting the similarities and differences between the group on the left and the right, but let’s just say we’ve graduated from dog-focused coins. As stupid as memes may be, they are leading culture (especially for younger generations), are an increasingly prominent form of conversation, and will be a part of crypto culture like that pesky crumb of food that’s stuck in your teeth from lunch. The only difference is floss will not get rid of it 🦷

Because of that, I believe it’s important to understand what the hell is going on?!, at least to a degree.

If you’re already overwhelemed (I don’t blame you), check out an earlier piece about Memes I wrote over a year ago. I provide my POV on memes from different iterations of the Internet to where we are today. Some other case studies I’ve highlighted around memecoins have been around PEPE (still holds a market cap of $490 million 👀) and MOG.

Before we dive into more nuances and examples of memes in crypto and web3, let’s go to a different world, the…

NBA and Jimmy Butler

The NBA season is now in full swing (yay!), but there was one story last that caught my eye from early October.

First of all, who is Jimmy Butler? He’s one of the star players of the Miami Heat, and helped take the team to 2 NBA Finals appearances in the past 4 seasons.


At the Miami Heat media day last month, he arrived like this:


This wasn’t for Halloween, this was for Miami Heat media day. Butler spent the day taking pictures and talking to media as if he were the frontman for Green Day instead of the frontman for a NBA team.

This was all fun and games, and I chuckled at the Jimmy Butler memes peppered into my social media feeds. However, it took the start of the NBA season to realize that ‘emo’ Jimmy Butler wasn’t going to be a fleeting meme. His decision to look emo during Miami Heat media day had longer-term consequences.

What do I mean by this? From the article where I pulled the picture from, emphasis mine:

With Butler rocking this look on media day, which is when players talk to reporters and take official headshots, his emo style will be featured in promotional photos all throughout the upcoming NBA season.

What does that look like?

If Jimmy Butler was a top performer for a Heat game, you’d see his emo headshot:


Want Jimmy’s season stats? No problem.


Don’t like ESPN’s photo of Jimmy Butler? Let’s check another sports platform:


Oh…kay…what about emerging fantasy platforms like Sorare?

Jimmy Butler knew the consequences of ‘picture day’ and the permanence that his emo look would have across the NBA and associated media. He turned a fleeting moment into a season-long meme. The better the Miami Heat do, the more the meme proliferates.

I’m curious if this will proliferate in future seasons and their ripple effects. At the end of the day, as long as players and teams perform these jokes will be tolerated.

Alright back to crypto and web3.

VanEck’s social media intern

Over the past several months, numerous fund managers have submitted Bitcoin ETF filings, eagerly awaiting approval. One of them is VanEck, with ~$76 billion in assets under management. Sounds like a lot, but this number is small compared to other fund managers that have filed like Blackrock, with ~$9 trillion AUM.

One area that VanEck punches above its weight class is on the social media front, and folks are noticing. At some point in the past couple of months, VanEck’s social media strategy (specifically on X) changed.

Before (top, late August) and after (bottom, late October):

Maybe it’s a pivot in their social strategy, maybe it’s a new intern (a joke made to the people who run social media accounts, oftentimes it’s not an intern). What we do know is that it’s working in terms of views, engagement, and recognition from the broader crypto space.

Most notably, this post did numbers a couple weeks ago, combining the gm and Pepe memes into one, while tastefully incorporating the VanEck brand.

So what’s the strategy here? Why would VanEck, a fund manager go full degen on their X account?

Similar to the legacy strategy of cereal ads targeting kids, who then convinced their parents to purchase sugar-packed cereal, VanEck is doing something similar but with ETFs.

Cartoons 🤝 Cereal

Crypto-native consumers won’t be the consumers of VanEck’s ETF products, but they now remember the name and will be on the shortlist if future friends and relatives ask about crypto ETFs.

Have you eaten cereal before? If so, share or subscribe!


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The Simpsons NFT episode

One of the headlines was the NFT space being featured in the Simpsons. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can watch the episode here.

The episode pokes fun at all the usual criticisms of NFTs: Their speculative value, hype cycles, and the focus on monetary focus. All valid criticisms.

Despite this, the NFT space rejoiced at the feature, an avalanche of memes popped up, and several Simpsons-related derivative projects took off. Old habits die hard I guess.

Source, these hit 0.4 ETH (~$750) at the peak 🤦‍♂️

The Simpsons feature wasn’t the main reason why NFTs showed signs of life again, but it certainly contributed to it.


What’s the point?

Culture is continuing to shift at a rapid pace. In crypto and web3, it moves 10x faster. And if you’re a new entrant into the ecosystem, it’s usually more like this, regardless of market conditions:

Despite the chaos, the value of understanding meme culture and communicating in this dialect is increasing, especially with younger and digitally-native audiences. We’re seeing this beginning to happen on the largest stages (NBA) and in more formal industries (VanEck), not only niche communities.

And if you want a masterclass in this ‘art’, join us on X. The waves are rough at times, but the water’s warm (insert pee joke).

See you Thursday!

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