Slim Jim’s “Social” Side: Advertising Beef Jerky with Memes
A Long and Dry Start
The famous brand of flavored meat, Slim Jim, has come a long way from whip sound effects and men in jerky costumes for their advertising. In the new age of selling products over social media, their means of attracting young audiences to their line of jerky no longer consists of Randy Savage’s signature ravings, but memes. Slim Jim advertises mostly through their Instagram page, launched in 2012, where they release a meme related to their brand daily. Slim Jim’s official Instagram had a rough start, with fan pages gaining more and consistent followers than the official page, which had dry humor and generic corporate-esque marketing.
Long Boi’s Origins
Once Andy Hines, owner of Instagram handle @slimjimssoingthings was taken on as a marketing director, his implementation of memes to their posts created a groundswell in followers for the page. In under a year, Slim Jim’s official page grew from 5,000 followers to 500,000 with the help of Hines. Even the first few memes posted on the page generated tens of thousands of likes and over a thousand comments, and that was only the beginning. As 2020 comes to a close, their page has 1.2 million followers, which the page considers the “long boi gang”. The page regularly refers to their strips of beef jerky as “long bois” in their posts as a means for a clever and catchy nickname to their titular product. From a glance, one could argue that Slim Jim is trying to appeal mostly to a younger audience, as memes of their format are usually shared, created, and enjoyed by teenagers.
Staying Slim and Social
The Instagram page is also regularly active with other aspects of the platform, as their Instagram story is almost always stacked to the brim with content. They also have links to official “long boi” merchandise for those who are interested in representing this gang with apparel, stickers, and more. Slim Jim also comments on other meme accounts as well as celebrity pages for further exposure and internet presence. Whether it be a nice comment, a question, or otherwise, Slim Jim leaves a quick reply that usually plays on modern internet lingo like “no u”, “gang gang”, or “no comment”. Depending on the initial comment, Slim Jim’s response can range from an “I love you” to endearing responses or an “ok” towards the more harsh user statements. Either way, the page shows inclusion and genuine emotion towards their supporters and witty responses to the more harsh critics on the internet. Their stories usually consist of content from the “long boi gang” as they share pictures with Slim Jim’s line of products. This line of advertisement could be considered extremely inclusive, as anyone that buys their products and follows their page could be a member of this collective that they are building. Slim Jim, as far as I have seen, also replies to all of the comments on their posts, creating an even closer connection to their target audience than most. In my experience, this consistency to replies is scarcely seen on Instagram. While their approach may not be the most brilliant means of selling their products, it has generated a dedicated audience and only continues to grow rapidly as their memes are shared and enjoyed across Instagram.
Memes act as a great way to attract the youth of the internet, considering many of the largest pages share these humorous pictures in order to generate some electricity for their brand or to just grow their page. It shows that Slim Jim is making a tenacious and persistent effort to relate to their audience with a modern medium they can relate to and digest. Although some of their memes miss the mark of being side-splitting masterpieces, they definitely provide a fair share of laughs. Instagram users seem to resonate heavily with their posts, as they usually average anywhere between 45,000 to 270,000 likes, depending on how much of a hit their post was in the sense of being funny. With such a heavy emphasis on accommodating the youth, it would not be far-fetched to assume that Slim Jim’s Instagram page has some younger contributors to their ranks, considering a fair amount of their posts have a juvenile feel.
Dimming the Online Distance
Slim Jim has always advertised to an adolescent audience, whether it be with pro wrestlers hollering about snapping into a Slim Jim, or cartoons in Mad Magazine. Although advertising with memes may seem like a way to herd minors, their posts have an edge to them that could appeal to a wider audience than just pre-teens. Their Instagram page does a great job creating a “human” feel, especially for such a house-hold brand. Not many snack companies I have come across have applied this level of care into their internet persona like Slim Jim has. This close relationship Slim Jim tries to create in an online space generates a welcoming environment that is all inclusive and can create some serious traction for the famous jerky stick.
Jonesing for Jerky
As of 2015- a few years after their successful Instagram launch, their revenues come out to an estimated $575 million dollars in the United States, with around 500 million being produced and sold annually. To say that this unique campaign has been a success definitely seems to translate to sales in the company’s recent years. Slim Jim’s Instagram page brings life to a virtual space in a way that most companies, food or otherwise fail to capture as effectively. The corporation is leading the market in terms of meme-based advertisement and this could be their way of becoming an even more well-established household name than they were when focusing on releasing television commercials left and right in the 1980’s and 90’s.The memes tackle a modern market in a way that adolescents can understand and appreciate without it feeling like blatant advertisement. By sharing one post a day along with user generated stories, Slim Jim’s Instagram presence always feels engaging and follows an algorithm that over a million people have subscribed to. Members of the “long boi gang” are updated with content every 24 hours that can provide a quick laugh and generate a little hunger for some jerky in the process.