A Tale Of Two Kitties: Lil Bub and Tard
I’ve made a lot of bad decisions this year, but by far one of the worst was flying back to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving today instead of tomorrow, which is preventing me from meeting Lil Bub in Brooklyn. (And going to BlackBook‘s Stoli event tonight; I have other priorities, too.) In case you don’t know, Lil Bub is a cat that’s risen to internet prominence over the past year or so. She lives in Indiana, she’s permanently kitten-sized, and her little tongue is always sticking out. Precious! She’s also lucky enough to have an owner who’s savvy enough to maintain a strong online identity for her.
By making blog posts in Bub’s voice, Mike Bridavsky has created a personality for her outside of what we see in pictures and videos, therefore making his adorable cat even more likeable. He’s also enlisted graphic designer friends to make some cool merch for him, and he’s aligned himself with stylish publications like Vice and Bullett to present videos and photoshoots. (Cute animals are pretty no-brow, but Bridavsky’s starting at Buzzfeed and Good Morning America and aiming higher.) Overall, he has a good grasp of what kind of voice he wants to maintain for himself and Bub, and it’s all positivity and fishes from here on out.
More recently, another cat’s trying to get a piece of the internet pie. With her perma-frowning mug, Tard the Grumpy Cat quickly became a meme on Reddit, and her owners then launched a daily photo blog and merchandising. However, regardless of the thousands of Tumblr notes each post gets, they haven’t created the kind of sustainable business model that Bridavsky has with Bub. First of all, it’s indisputably unpleasant that the cat is named "Tard," so let’s call her Lady Edith instead. Her image was established with just a couple of pictures, and while we were desperate for more in the early days of her meme-hood, it’s ultimately diluting the brand to have more pictures posted every day. Lady Edith could have stayed iconic and mysterious like the success baby, but instead there’s a constant flood of new material. If her owners are going to continue blogging this way, they need to inject more character into their posts. So Lady Edith always looks pissed off—why? Come up with some creative reasons for her ennui or pair the posts with quotes from existential philosophers. I didn’t think it was possible for a cat blog to be this boring. Also, their merch is not that cute. It’s 2012, get some better fonts.
Meanwhile, I know Lil Bub is out there somewhere, a tiny furball of delight. She and her dude are playing the internet game the way it’s meant to be played. Bridavsky has managed to distinguish himself in a world dominated by cats, and he’s done it so well that I am going to admit it’s disappointing that none of the guys I’ve seen wearing Lil Bub t-shirts were otherwise attractive.
Follow Katie Chow on Twitter.