Orange Is The New App - Trying To Co-Opt The Meme Business

Posted by Miles.Weaver


Image credit: Android Central


In something of a follow up to a recent post I made about the battle for social TV, I observed Tumblr’s prominence in engaging users outside of the actual show airing window, particularly in the way largely image driven memes emerge from the micro-blogging platform (though, shameless plug, I still use mine mainly for long-form content).

It doesn’t look like I was the only one that noticed this. Netflix have recently released “Orange Is The New App” (herein referred to as OITNA), an application for their critically acclaimed series Orange Is The New Black, which is now its second season. OITNA doesn’t act as a companion to be used whilst watching the show, it acts as a touch point for users to engage and share content around it. Primarily to get on the meme bandwagon, the app (for iOS and Android) allows the sharing of pre-made image memes, or for the user to create their own.

What does it look like?

Image credit:


What's it like to use?

Having spent the last couple of days playing around with the app, it pains me to say it, but this is the exact thing I warned about in my previous post about success of Tumblr:


“… content and trends emerge organically and it’s largely remained free of advertising, corporate campaigns that stifle genuine fan commentary and try to replace it with deferential self praise.”


The problem with OITNA is that it tries to co-opt the organic nature of meme generation into something more corporate friendly, and it doesn’t really work. Memes generally don’t just reference the show they’re derived from, they often weave phrases or images from across pop culture together in order to create the joke. OITNA only references the show it’s derived from and, as a result, is severely limited in how referential it can be.

The greeting card/‘your face in this image’ version might be used a little more, but the app is little more than a standard promotional tool, that does little more than offer us the exact kind of generic image sharing that Netflix already try to drown their show Facebook pages in.

I applaud what Netflix are trying to do in attempting to connect with fans beyond the more traditional route, but - cute name aside - OITNA ends up going down the same trite routes that we’ve seen before. Only by letting go of the need to control the brand and allowing people to play with characters and themes on their own terms can attempts like this succeed. I know it’s scary, but try to live a little.



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Miles WeaverMiles Weaver is the Product Manager of Piksel’s second screen application, 2Si. He writes on technology, entertainment and culture at Connect with him on Twitter with @mrmilesweaver or @piksel.



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