Meme manager Ben Lashes on Grumpy Cat fame


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    The original Grumpy Cat, who inspired hundreds of memes.

    - Grumpy Cat

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One of the most famous Internet memes, Grumpy Catjust signed a movie deal. “How do you not make money off cats on the internet? Come on,” says Ben Lashes, her agent.

“Grumpy cat is one of my newer clients,” says Lashes. He says he saw pictures of the cat online.  Tardar Sauce is her real cat name.

“I didn’t jump on it first day or anything ambulance-chasey or anything like that," Lashes explains. 

He signed a deal with the cat’s owner after he realized he was charmed by the cat.

Lashes has been working as a meme manager for about two-and-a-half years. He got his start by helping a friend market and brand Keyboard Cat. “It’s the Elvis of Internet cats,” he says.

Does he know a meme when he sees it? Lashes is modest, “You can never predict exactly how huge it’s going to be but I do like watching it kind of like the stock market — like when Baauer was going on, I was like buy early and sell quick.” (Baauer was the man behind the Harlem Shake.)

While the popularity of a specific meme may be cyclical, Lashes thinks the medium is here to stay. “Memes are the new pop culture characters that will live on. There’s been an imaginary line between internet famous and regular famous that I don’t think really exists or should exist," Lashes says.

"We’re going to only be looking at more content on digital devices.” There’s an element of populism to it all, Lashes says. “You can just put something out there on the internet. If it’s good enough, it will rise to the top.”

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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