If you paid attention to the news last week, you probably noticed the hubbub over “unicorn food,” a social-media-spun category of fanciful foodstuffs rendered in pastel colors and an excess of sprinkles. Starbucks helped make the food trend national news when it released a “unicorn Frappuccino” last Wednesday.
On Friday, I received an email from the publicist for Pyrrha, a Los Angeles–based brand known for making silver talismans using authentic wax seals and Victorian era imagery, that cleverly hitched a ride on the bandwagon. “Since unicorns seem to be having a major pop culture moment, without further ado, passing along Pyrrha’s contribution to this fashion/beauty/food trend,” the email began.
While the silver unicorn talismans Pyrrha is promoting lack the pink, purple, and yellow color scheme that unites most unicorn edibles, they got me thinking about the value of recognizing memes and taking advantage of their currency to create of-the-moment content.
Power to Heal Talisman ring in silver, $310; Pyrrha
Unicorn in the Forest Talisman necklace in silver, $242; Pyrrha
The term meme was coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene, and refers to an element of a culture that is passed from person to person, much like a gene. The internet is rife with them. Think Grumpy Cat, the dancing baby, or anything put out by @MyTherapistSays, an Instagram account with 1.9 million followers.
At the Baselworld show in March, Gucci invited the two young women who run @MyTherapistSays to speak at a press conference about the brand’s collaborative meme project, #TFWGucci (the hashtag letters stand for “that feeling when,” a meme cliché). They likened memes to “one big inside joke.”
At the press conference, I learned that Gucci had reached out to an international cohort of meme creators and tasked them with creating memes incorporating Gucci imagery. According to the brand, the project, which highlights Gucci’s Le Marché des Merveilles watch collection, demonstrates creative director “Alessandro Michele’s desire to engage with a wider creative community than that which traditionally locates around the world of fashion.”
A #TFWGucci artwork created by Less, a Korean photographer (note the unicorn!)
A #TFWGucci artwork created by Paulina Olowska
While not all of the artworks created for #TFWGucci hit the mark (some just aren’t that funny), I love the spirit of the project. And I appreciate the contemporary approach to marketing. When it works, it’s funny, relevant, and has the potential to go viral—which is precisely the point.
(Unicorn in the Forest Multi Talisman cuff in silver, $1,560; Pyrrha)