Imagine, it?s 4 in the morning and you?re sleeping. You wake up to a voicemail from your friend that says ?Dude. I just made you internet-famous.? Well, that?s what happened to Kyle Craven, who at the time was 22 years old. Who is Kyle Craven you may wonder? You might recognize him by the meme Bad Luck Brian.
Bad luck Brian was born on January 23rd 2012, when Kyle?s friend Ian Davies submitted Kyle?s old yearbook photo to Reddit with the caption ?Takes driving test ? gets first DUI.? Surprisingly, the original post only gained 5 up votes. However, others joined on captioning Kyle?s yearbook photo as the second meme was posted with the caption of ?Tries to stealthily fart in class / shits?. For those meme lovers that may not know this meme?s history, this second post was truly the beginning of Bad Luck Brian?s fame. It was featured on the front page of the Advice Animals? subreddit account and the meme generated more than 3,300 up votes in the duration of two months.
Left: The original meme posted by Ian Davies. Right: The second Bad Luck Brian meme.
Other reddit accounts posted different variations of the meme with captions following the same format. The meme then moved from reddit to 9gag, the famous humour site, where it received 48,000+ likes within a day. Later on the meme spread to Pinterest, Buzzfeed and Funny or Die. This was obviously expected because what meme does not reach Buzzfeed? Users on Tumblr and Funny Junk joined the Bad Luck Brian bandwagon as well. Facebook fan pages for this meme have been created and the largest account had more than 29,000 likes. The Bad Luck Brian meme spread like wildfire.
Different variations of the Bad Luck Brian meme
Kyle revealed his identity on a Ask Me Anything subreddit, which was taken down but he persisted to let the world know his identity. He posted another Ask Me Anything thread on the Advice Animals subreddit which recieved 24,722 upvotes. The world now knew Kyle Craven.
Kyle tried to capitalize on his meme-status as Bad Luck Brian. I mean, if you have the opportunity to make money easily, wouldn?t you? Brian took charge of the opportunity to make extra cash from his meme status by delegating licensing deals with other companies who paid a fee to use his face. Seriously, getting money just to let someone put your face on a t-shirt is a pretty good win to me! There were multiple Bad Luck Brian t-shirts at Hot Topic and Walmart. Surprisingly, there were also companies that made paperweights and stuffed animals inspired by the meme. Kyle was also smart when it came to capitalizing his fame for the use of advertisements. He negotiated deals with multiple companies who used his presence in ad campaigns such as Volkswagen and RealPlayer.
From left to right: Bad Luck Brian Hot Topic t-shirt, paperweight and stuffed animal
Kyle estimates that he made between $15,000 and $20,000 off of licensing deals and t-shirt sales in three years. Obviously, Kyle needed another job to support himself, but he states that it was ?not bad for doing basically nothing.? Kyle entered the world of Youtube as another means to make profit from his meme-status. He started his channel a year and a half after the meme first appeared (perhaps too late?) and made videos that acted out some of the memes. His first three videos gained 150,000 views while his other eight did not reach 45,000. He recieved Youtube cheques that rarely surpassed $100. Kyle?s youtube videos halted after a year.
Perhaps Kyle could have leveraged his popularity to gain more money. He could have posted more videos and maintained more relationships with fans as I believe he had the potential to. Take Laina Morris for example, you may know her as Overly Attached Girlfriend. Laina was able to capitalize on her meme-status by maintaining her Youtube channel with more than 1.2 million subscribers. If Kyle maintained his Youtube videos, he possibly could of had the potential to gain more followers, especially since he had meaningful interactions with fans at conventions. In fact, one fan said the following to Kyle: ?When my grandpa was really sick, I always looked at Bad Luck Brian photos to make me laugh.? Others who he met a conventions thanked him for the memes. Evidently, Kyle had a fanbase and could have grown it and catered his services like Youtube videos to maintain and grow his fanbase to profit off of them. After all, the more views on youtube the more money you make.
Nevertheless, memes are art, but how long can one solely profit from their meme-status? Hence Kyle could not have easily balanced his life between his personal job and the ways he could have gained money from his meme-status. Kyle now spends his days earning a living as a project manager at his father?s construction company and specializes on overseeing building sites for multiple churches. As the Bad Luck Brian starts to fade, Kyle starts to focus on his real persona.
Contrera, J. (2015, January 5). Being Bad Luck Brian: When the meme that made you famous starts to fade away. The Washington Post. Retrieved February 12, 2018 from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/being-bad-luck-brian-when-the-meme-that-made-you-famous-starts-to-fade-away/2015/01/05/07cbf6ac-907c-11e4-a412-4b735edc7175_story.html?utm_term=.7f97143af4e3
Bad Luck Brian. (2018). Know Your Meme. Retrieved February 12, 2018 from http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/bad-luck-brian