10 Internet Memes That Became Commercials

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Just when we thought the Rebecca Black meme had finally gone the way of All Your Base, it’s back — in the form of a Kohl’s commercial encouraging us to shop on Black Friday, no less. Over the weekend, we saw the ad just about every time we turned on our TV, to our great despair. The ordeal got us thinking about the big business of Internet memes, which are turning up more and more often in mainstream advertisements. After the jump, we look at Antoine Dodson, Honey Badger, and many more online celebrities who became pitchmen.

Rebecca Black for Kohl’s

What do Rebecca Black’s “Friday” and shopping on the day after Thanksgiving have in common? Oh, that’s right — they’re both incredibly irritating, and together, they’re even more annoying than the sum of their parts. On the plus side, at least poor, 14-year-old Black has found a way to profit from her massive public humiliation.

Chuck Norris for World of Warcraft

Rebecca Black isn’t the only meme who’s taking her Internet fame to the bank this holiday season. Today, Front Towards Gamer introduced us to a new World of Warcraft commercial featuring none other than Chuck Norris, whose Chuck Norris Facts meme dates back to 2005. The ad presents us with a few new facts: “Chuck Norris is a hunter, but Chuck Norris doesn’t hunt. Hunting would imply the possibility of failure.” And did you know that “there are ten million people in the World of Warcraft, because Chuck Norris allows them to live”? All we can say is, WoW really knows its audience.

Honey Badger for Wonderful Pistachios

Up until 2011, most people didn’t even know what a honey badger looked like. Then, along came “The Crazy Nastyass Honey Badger” video, which taught the world that honey badgers are totally badass creatures that simply don’t give a fuck. Earlier this fall, pop culture-savvy nut brand Wonderful Pistachios snapped up Honey Badger — and Randall, the distinctive voice behind the viral sensation — for an ad that finds him using a cobra to crack pistachio shells.

Tay Zonday for Cherry Chocolate Dr. Pepper

Tay Zonday’s deep-voiced “Chocolate Rain” was apparently intended to address institutionalized racism — but that’s not exactly what most fans got out of it. A few months after Zonday rose to fame, in 2007, he released “Cherry Chocolate Rain,” a spin-off of the original song advertising — what else — Cherry Chocolate Dr. Pepper. He’s since gone on shill for Comedy Central, Firefox, and Vizio (for which he briefly appeared in a Super Bowl commercial with Beyoncé).

Nyan Cat for Sprint

Sprint endeared itself to Internet users the world over when it released the commercial above, which acknowledged that the web basically exists for the sole purpose of propagating cat videos. The footage of kitties driving cars would have been enough, but who can deny the thrill of that split-second of everyone’s favorite Pop Tart-bodied feline, Nyan Cat?

Tron Guy for Duck Tape

The world of fandom has produced quite a few great memes over the years. Unfortunately, many of them have turned out to be pretty cruel — remember Star Wars Kid? But Tron Guy, a computer programmer named Jay Maynard who went viral in 2004, after creating his own, meticulously detailed Tron costume, has always embraced fame. Maynard has appeared on late-night TV and reviewed Tron: Legacy for Wired. This summer, he appeared in an ad that found him daydreaming about Duck Brand duct tape… and, of course, Tron.

Planking with Davis-Moore Nissan

We never quite understood what was so amusing about photos of people lying down with their arms at their sides in bizarre locations, but the Internet really seems to like it! So it was only a matter of time before planking showed up in, say, an ad for a Wichita Nissan dealership.

Dramatic Chipmunk for Carmax

Tay Zonday isn’t the only meme who’s ascended to Super Bowl-commercial status; Japanese kids’ show star Dramatic Chipmunk (who is actually Dramatic Prairie Dog) posed for his close-up in a Carmax ad that played during last year’s big game. As far as we’re concerned, this one could have been a lot more creative.

Antoine Dodson for Sex Offender Tracker app

Antoine Dodson had some harsh words for the “bed intruder” who attempted to rape his sister in a news segment that went viral last year, thanks to the Auto-Tuning talents of the Gregory Brothers. So it’s either totally fitting or kind of weird and exploitative that he parlayed that fame into a gig as pitchman for a $1.99 iPhone and Android app called Sex Offender Tracker, which promises to keep “you and your peeps… aware of any of those nasty bed intruders in your hood.”

Keyboard Cat for Wonderful Pistachios

Wonderful Pistachios loves Internet memes. More of these, please, Wonderful — and fewer Kardashians.