BET's Museum of Meme 'heralds the African-American experience online'

The campaign team behind the museum discussed how it helped to build hype for the BET Social Media Awards.

Client: BET
Campaign: Museum of Meme – 2018 BET Social Media Awards
Agency: Team Epiphany
Duration: February 2018

Anyone who has ever wanted to see the Michael Jackson eating popcorn meme reimagined as art on a gallery wall was in luck this February at the Museum of Meme.

Viacom subsidiary BET Networks opened the weekend long pop-up museum - which celebrated African-American social movements, popular memes, hashtags, and viral videos - to build anticipation for its first Social Media Awards event.

BET and its PR partner for the campaign, Team Epiphany, began planning for the activation in late December 2017.

BET received the most social chatter of any cable network on Facebook and Twitter during 2017. The goal of the campaign was to create a unique activation that would continue this buzz and generate awareness leading up to BET’s first Social Media Awards.

The campaign team designed a pop-up gallery at 446 Broadway in SoHo, New York City, that incorporated social movements, popular memes, hashtags, and tributes to some of the biggest video moments of the past year from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Vine.

"One of the core tenets of the activation was to make the entire experience shareable," explained Jarrett Cobbs, VP of Strategy at Team Epiphany. "Every piece that was exhibited was an opportunity for consumers to share their experience." 

Prior to launch, media outreach efforts aimed to secure coverage of the activation as one of the "best things to do in New York" for the week. The PR team pitched a variety of entertainment, lifestyle, and culture publications.

The Museum of Meme launched on February 8 with an invite-only launch party for influencers, celebrities, and media to provide an exclusive look at the space. Attendees included: Rotimi, a singer with more than 965,000 Instagram followers; Angela Rye, a CNN contributor with 590,000 Instagram followers; singer Bridget Kelly; and R&B star Bobby Valentino. Many of the VIPs shared their experience through organic posts on their own social channels.

#betsocialawards #party #nyc

A post shared by BobbyVshow (@bobbyvshow) on

Got to preview the @BET Museum of Meme early with @hellonecole & so many dope folks. #BETSocialAwards · Social media is a powerful force in shaping & transforming culture. Not just these days, but for a long time, Black culture has been the driving force behind much of American culture at large. #BYBG · The problem is so often Black culture is just consumed, parodied, even stolen all the while the actual people who are the culture are ignored. · It was a pleasure to check out this ode to memes birthed by Black culture & the Black people who embody it. Special shoutout to @rembert for curating the project. #BeYouBeGreat · For my NY folks ?? the museum is open to the public tomorrow 12pm-7pm. Tweet me your favorite part! ??: @gettyimages

A post shared by Sam Whiteout (@samwhiteout) on

The museum was open to the public February 9-10. Visitors were encouraged to share the experience using hashtags #WeOwnSocial and #BETSocialAwards.

"Heralding the African-American experience online was something that had never been done in this way," added Cobbs. "Shining light on this content allowed consumers to see a reflection of themselves in the event and made the overall experience more meaningful."

In total, more than 3,000 people attended the museum, including 2 Milly, the inventor of the viral "Milly Rock" dance, and Nicholas Fraser, creator of the "Why You Always Lying" meme, whose memorable moments were featured in the space.

The pop-up activation also garnered 26 media placements during the month of February. Top coverage included features in NPR, Thrillist, and US Weekly.

The 2018 BET Social Awards received more than 2.2 million views on BET's social channels alone and became the number one cable special of 2018 for African-American viewers between the ages of 18-34.

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