The Unlikely Star of SXSW: Grumpy Cat

Forget Elon Musk or Al Gore. The biggest star of the South by Southwest Interactive festival is less than a year old, sleeps all day and looks like she just swallowed a hairball. Meet Grumpy Cat, the social queen earning more than 3,000 Twitter mentions per day for three straight days of the conference.

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The real-life cat, an Internet sensation since photos of her sourpuss face began circulating last fall, has been holding court during SXSW at the Mashable House, a temporary lounge run by the tech-news site. People have stood for hours, in lines snaking around the block, to get their picture taken with her.

Grumpy Cat, an 11-month-old mixed breed whose real name is Tardar Sauce, has ignored them all. Mostly she sleeps in a cat bed while fans pass by to pose next to her. Instead of smiling, many of them make pouty faces of their own. Other celebrities, like SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, might have peaked with higher social scores on the days of their keynotes, but Grumpy Cat’s consistency and downright grumpiness propelled her to glory.

Why I’m Curious:
The phenomenon of this feline points to a rising digital trend that we mentioned last week around the significance of silly stuff. Does silly stuff like dancing ponies and grumpy cats really matter? The entertainment for entertainment’s sake that we are seeing here uncovers some of the primary motivations people have to use the digital space — to laugh, to share with their friends, and to make enhance their personal brand. I’m curious to see how memes and sillier trends like Gangnam Style continue to develop and determine if there are opportunities for brands to leverage this kind of content.


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