A week ago, I got a paper bill from Bank of America. Included in the envelope were a couple of ads – because if you’re trying to get money, you might as well try to get money, too.
One of the ads caught my eye, and I’ve taken the liberty of scanning it for you:
I can appreciate the wordplay (letterplay?) with “Llearn to llove your app.” Except – wait a minute –
I know that llama.
I was sitting beside Betsy last night, seeing this thing for the first time, when I yelled: “That’s the ‘Call the cops, I don’t give a fuck’ llama!”
“Come on,” I said, “google it!”
Betsy was looking up baby stuff at the time (the nerve!) but dutifully opened a new browser tab and did an image search. Sure enough, here was the meme-style image I remembered:
It’s the same llama.
I did some reading. It turns out that the llama photo gets lots of other captions, and the meme is less about the “Call the cops” phrase, and more about “Look, it’s a llama wearing a scarf.”
The precise origins of the llama image are tough to pin down (and Know Your Meme is no help), but supposedly it actually began as an old Banana Republic ad, of all things. (If anyone can find a convincing, authoritative source for this, please let me know.) The original image is allegedly:
So it makes sense that Bank of America, advertising an app with an ad that mentions “hashtags, selfies and emojis,” might use an Internet meme. But I’m still impressed with (1) the relatively obscure choice of meme, compared to, say, Grumpy Cat, and (2) the subtlety of it, with nothing in the ad mentioning that it’s an Internet culture reference.
Maybe the graphic designer didn’t tell the marketing people. That would be amazing.
Also, if the image really is a Banana Republic ad originally, then presumably it’s copyrighted. That, in turn, means that one of two things happened. Either Bank of America stole intellectual property so it could put a little-known Internet meme on a paper ad – or it paid money to Banana Republic so it could print images of a scarf-wearing llama.
I can’t decide which would be funnier.