Shadowing the Beatles

January 3, 2011 |  by

We’ve all seen the iTunes billboard. Wow was my first impression: the Beatles are the coolest band in the world. They look like they just stepped out of a fashion shoot.

Then I had my second impression: Apple is so cool.

It’s such a subtle ad. Those impressions that felt so natural – they were the impressions the ad wanted me to have. I’d just been programmed. Sure, I recognized it was only marketing, but the impression stayed with me: Apple is so cool. That’s the program.

This is a great example for meme-mapping. This is just a “harmless” ad, but the same thing happens all the time in political or other settings. A meme confronts us, triggers a response in us and shapes our impressions and emotions. What’s tricky is when we don’t know who’s pulling the strings.

For a time, I couldn’t figure out if the Beatles were making Apple look good – or the other way around. Whose meme was really in charge – the Beatles or Apple? To find out, we can ask two questions.

Look at the billboard and ask yourself: Who has the power here? Whose agenda is at work? I don’t think it’s the Beatles. Remember, two of them are dead – and Sir Paul is 68.

Did you answer Apple?

If you didn’t, look at the picture below and ask yourself again. This time, it’s less hidden who’s in charge.

We need a name for this. Let’s call it shadowing. Something that “casts a long shadow” has a lot of influence. The idea is that a meme may be “standing behind” a person or a group, casting its shadow (influence) over them. Here we can say that Apple is shadowing the Beatles.


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