Spielwarenmesse: What Do You Meme?™: An internet phenomena hit the board game market

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  Movers & shakers

Movers & shakers

What Do You Meme?™: An internet phenomena hit the board game market

from Spielwarenmesse eG

When you watch people go wild with laughter while playing a card game, they might play What Do You Meme™. It is a party card game for the social media generation and everyone else who loves to laugh. Each player becomes a meme generator herself or himself matching the photo card of the round with one of the caption cards fitting best.

Usually, a meme is shared on social media as a link or file and is usually an image to which short, pithy texts have been added. These mostly quirky word/image combinations may have funny or political messages, and Internet users love to share them via social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

Meanwhile memes have become a card game. Julien Sharp, Director of Sales, joined the US company What Do You Meme? in December 2017.

Spielwarenmesse®: What do you think are the success factors of What Do You Meme™?

Portraitfoto Julien Sharp
Julien Sharp, Sales Director, What do you meme?™ with Hermann Hutter, Managing Director, Hutter Trade

Julien Sharp: The whole idea of the game is what people are doing anyway right now: sharing memes. It is about social media, it is about memes, and for the younger people it is a modern form of communication, not just sharing commented pictures.

Where did the idea for the game come from?

J. S.: My bosses Ben Kaplan, Elliot Tebele, and Elie Ballas were posting funny pictures with a caption and shared memes. They have a talent for knowing what people do find funny. Acknowledging the popularity of memes and of boardgames, they said, why don’t we take memes and make it a game. They started a kickstarter funding campaign for What Do You Meme™ in the US.

When was What Do You Meme™ introduced to the US market?

J. S.: The game was funded and promoted via Kickstarter in 2015. It hit the market. The founders decided soon to sell the party card game via Amazon and it became quickly Amazon’s #1 best-selling game.

What do you meme™ Trailer

What social media impact had the board game on memes?

J. S.: The game, promoted on the Instagram and Facebook, triggered off an avalanche of social media buzz. Several posts about the game went viral, including one video on Facebook that was shared over 150,000 times, generating over 45MM views.

What else made the game so successful?

J. S.: Our key to success was all about getting the famous memes, not just any pictures. Today the number of our followers and our knowledge of trends helps us to find pictures which are not famous until we get the license and publish them. And by the time the memes become famous, fans find their favorite meme in the expansion pack and are thrilled.

Meanwhile What Do You Meme™ has become a product family. How come?

J. S.: There is a lot of content in the game. You could play it for months and months, but at some point you like to have new pictures. This is why we have introduced several expansion packs tailored to different target groups. There are slumber party games for girls 10 to 12 years old; Mean Girls for girls 17-18 years old which they play when they go out drinking; Basic Bitch about the boring girls who think they are not boring; Game of Thrones for the fans and more frivolous versions for players age 18+ like 4-bidden words. The main target group are the millennials, this is why we use mainly millennial content.

Card game What do you meme™
What Do You Meme ™ is an Internet phenomena converted into a hilarious party game.

How about sales abroad?

J. S.: The first distribution started to Australia and to Canada in 2017. In 2018 we ended up making for our Australian distributor an Australian version. Obviously the Australians are English speaking, however the spelling is different and the humor is different. We made a version for the United Kingdom: very different English, very different humor and we included members of the Royal Family. So we had a UK version and I went to the Distoy in London to boost sales. There I was introduced to Hermann Hutter. And now Hutter Trade is our distribution partner for Germany. We launched the German version of What Do You Meme™ at Spielwarenmesse® 2019.

Memes are commented pictures which are spread over the Internet. How difficult is it to track the photo rights you need to sell the memes as a game with commercial interest? Usually memes are not marked with photo credits.

J. S.: A colleague of mine does nothing else than to track memes and works out license agreements. This is hard work. The pictures are shared and shared and shared on. She has to do both, to find the person who technically owns the picture and to convince the one to license his or her meme. We have full license rights of all our memes.

What do you like most about your job?

J. S.: I love selling to big accounts in the US, but my job includes a lot of travelling and that is what I really do love: I like to meet with people of other countries. And there is one thing all people have in common, they love to laugh!

Thank you, Julien Sharp, for sharing the story of What Do You Meme™ with us.

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