Hillary Clinton ’69 likes TextsFromHillary
Capitalizes on surge in Clinton's popularity
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012
Updated: Saturday, May 5, 2012 03:05
Unlike most Tumblrs that rarely survive beyond an early period of anonymity, TextsFromHillary caused an instant sensation. Within days, the average meme on the site has been reshared thousands of times on Tumblr alone and innumerable Facebook users have shared the links on their own walls or friends’ walls.
The TextsFromHillary memes are two-panelled images: The top panel usually features one or more politicians, celebrities or pop culture figures in the process of sending or receiving texts, which are captioned in the image. The panel below is invariably one of two images of Hillary Clinton ’69, credited to Reuters photographer Kevin Lamarque and Time photographer Diana Walker. In both pictures Hillary looks sharp and classy, wearing sunglasses, a dark suit and a brusque expression, holding a cell phone in her left hand. The texts she is credited with—all fake, of course—are generally clipped, simultaneously conveying confidence, condescension and humor.
One TextsFromHillary graphic features Meryl Streep, dressed to the nines on the red carpet, texting “Brunch?” to which Hillary replies “Obviously.” Others feature Hillary dismissing the likes of Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin (via a Mean Girls reference), Mark Zuckerberg and Jon Stewart (in favor of Colbert). Ryan Gosling’s familiar “Hey girl...” is met with a firm smack down: “It’s Madam Secretary.”
Hillary Clinton was not selected at random from some arbitrary mess of potentially amusing politicians. “It’s just the idea that Hillary is a force to be reckoned with, and she is still very relevant among Americans,” said Stacy Lambe, one of the Tumblr’s two creators, in an interview with Marin Cogan of GQ magazine. “[T]he success might be due to the fact that there’s this appreciation for her that has grown since she took over as Secretary of State. I think people have learned to appreciate who she is and value her again.”
Clinton is indeed more popular and respected than ever before despite declining ratings for many of her party affiliates. However, the Tumblr’s creators are underestimating themselves—and the power of internet trends—if they think any meme generator could easily reproduce their success. TextsFromHillary is not only a winning combination of wit, sass and pop culture, but it’s also grammatically correct and capitalizes on the number one favorite internet sensation of 2012: the text-and-picture mashup known as the meme. Furthermore, the Tumblr’s creators know how to get the attention of the masses. TextsFromHillary is run by two savvy gentlemen with résumés full of technology, social media and writing experience.
The Tumblr’s co-creators, Lambe and Adam Smith, are both based in Washington, DC. Lambe earned a BA from Pennsylvania State University in 2007, and has since worked in various communications and publicity jobs; his current employer is Tigercomm, a public relations company with locations on the east and west coasts. Adam Smith, who graduated from Elon University in 2005, has concentrated most of his work in the nonprofit sector. He briefly interned at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force following graduation, and is currently employed as a web content editor at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The friends supposedly came up with the idea for TextsFromHillary over drinks just two weeks ago.
Their communications specialties are at least partially responsible for their Tumblr’s rapid and booming success. But a well-publicized concept would flop if it wasn’t genuinely appealing, which TextsFromHillary indubitably is. And the Tumblr is neither Lambe nor Smith’s first attempt at popular mass media. Lambe also writes a pop culture, news and politics blog entitled “I’m With Kanye,” while Smith’s Twitter has a respectable 1,400 followers.
Will we be reading more texts from Hillary? Considering the Tumblr is only a week old and wildly popular, one would think the answer to this question is a firm “Yes.” However, on April 9, TextsFromHillary tweeted, alongside a link to a meme, “Here’s the final one. We had a lot of fun with the #Hillary texting meme.” In the interview with GQ, Lambe also refers to the Tumblr in the past tense.
On Tuesday, only six days following the first meme, Clinton invited Lambe and Cogan to her D.C. office and gifted them an autographed meme, signing “Thanks for the many LOLZ Hillary ‘Hillz.” According to Cogan, Clinton mentioned that the Gosling meme is her favorite.