Meet The Master's Of Memes Reid Hailey and Todd Anderman!
DATE: JULY 28, 2020
PROGRAM: ALWAYS EVOLVING W. COACH MIKE
GUEST: REID HAILEY/TODD ANDERMAN
HOST: MIKE BAYER
(START OF PODCAST)
MIKE BAYER: Welcome back to Always Evolving with me, Coach Mike, Mike Bayer, I’m excited to introduce you to the visionary behind Doing Things Media, they create some of the funniest internet memes online, they have an audience of over 60 million followers on Instagram, Facebook, Tik-Tik Tok and YouTube and they own a library of over 100,000 of the internet’s most viral videos. Today I have the president of this company Todd Anderman and the visionary Reid Hailey. Reid helped build an empire and partner up with 20 plus companies uh, so welcome, guys.
REID HAILEY: Thanks. Thanks for having us.
TODD ANDERMAN: Thanks.
MIKE: So how did this, essentially you guys started off as a business that created online memes, is that right?
REID: Yeah, so I can just kind of like talk about how I got started. Um, I was always an entrepreneur since I was 16, um, I had a little golf cart shuttle business. I had a concert amphitheater right by my house, I would take people back, back and forth from their cars. They’d park like a mile up the street I would take them for tips and, you know, beer sometimes. Um, and I was always like, kind of trying to make my own money. In college as well. I had an app business that didn’t really work out but was always trying to do stuff and so I saw uh, I was on Instagram, my friends were sending me a ton of stuff from like, Fuck Jerry and The Fat Jewish, um, and I was like…
MIKE: And those are big meme—those are big, if you could, those are huge meme accounts, right?
REID: Well, yeah, at the time, this is six years ago. They only had 100,000 followers and I thought that was big and uh, was like, “Damn, they’re literally just reposting that other people had made. They’re not really doing anything, um, I could do that and I could probably do it better,” um, and, and I started an account called Shithead Steve in my parents’ basement, um, and just started making like, funny memes and stuff like that. Um, so I was making my own content and uh, so that’s kind of how it started and uh, a couple years later um, I met Derek Lucas, my co-founder, he had a page called Drunk People Doing Things, um, and we partnered up and started Doing Things Media. We had about 3 million followers combined at the time.
MIKE: And what was the—let me ask you—so you created these accounts, and what was the first that made you money?
REID: Yeah, advertisements. Uh, so the, Shithead Steve, I was selling ads for about a year or two uh, let’s see, yeah, about two years before I partnered up with Derek. Um, and he was selling T-shirts and stuff on his uh, his stuff and I was also selling, like, my own print-on-demand stuff.
MIKE: So like, the, the first dollar that came through came out on merch…
REID: Uh, the first dollar was…advertisement, uh…I’m trying to remember what it was. It was probably some, like, janky app or something like that. Um, but yeah I was making good money. I was making, like, like my first ad I think I made like a few hundred bucks and then I started doing that multiple times a month and then moved out of my parents basement after about a year since starting it.
MIKE: Got it. And, and then it started to take off and uh, and then eventually it led to even you guys doing memes for, hired by Michael Bloomberg, right?
REID: Yeah, so we uh, we got hit up and, about it and we were like really not sure ’cause it’s political and all that stuff but uh, where he kind of like had to do it, just because it had never been done before with memes in this way and we were kind of able to poke fun at a candidate uh, so I thought it was really interesting and glad we did it but it was uh, it was crazy. We, I talked to probably 20 reporters, uh, the day after ’cause it was just everywhere.
MIKE: Because basically Michael Bloomberg wanted to make his campaign more “cool”…right?
REID: Yeah, yeah and like, he was making, he was like, down with us making fun of him, basically, um, just to like get people talking about him and it worked in terms of like how many people were talking about it; it definitely was pretty crazy.
MIKE: So, to put things in perspective ’cause there are a lot of elections coming up and what have you and you don’t need to say how much Bloomberg paid for these but how much would it cost someone to wanna run a campaign with you guys on your account if they were to do it again?
REID: Are you asking politically?
REID: (LAUGHS) We…
TODD: We can’t…
REID: …say, yeah.
TODD: Yeah, we, we do campaigns of, of all different ranges so it’s not about a, any category in particular so we work with small advertisers who have small budgets and large advertisers who have large budgets and we scale it accordingly.
MIKE: But like, what is the ballpark, like let’s say, to put things in perspective—how much could someone make just off a post who has a meme account?
TODD: They can make a nice living. They can make…
TODD: …a nice living.
MIKE: …tens of thousands of posts? Or is it like…few hundred still?
TODD: So (STAMMERS) it all depends on the size of the audience. We have some of our pages have uh, you know, relatively small audience, maybe, you know, half a million followers, which is, you know, far less expensive and we have some pages that have five, six million plus followers, so you’re paying for the, the amount of that audience and the reach.
MIKE: And is there anything frustrating for you as you guys have been meme evolvers in the space is there anything where you’re like, “Oh that sucked when Instagram started doing that”?
REID: Uh, well actually Instagram has someone, like they have a team now for meme accounts, specifically, which is really cool. Um, and that happened in the last year just ’cause they saw, like the traction with meme accounts. They, they see it on the backend, you know, how many shares each of these posts are getting and uh, and they said “Meme content gets shared seven times more than any other type of content.” Uh, I would have to look up the article for that but they like, recognized it, and uh, so, like, for a while there they just didn’t really recognize us as the same as like, other people with a lot of followers, I guess. Uh, but they definitely changed their approach and so it’s been really, really good.
MIKE: Well, how, how did the two of you meet?
REID: So I just saw Todd post on LinkedIn, uh, about uh, his work at Group 9 and uh, he had left the company and was kind of just taking it easy and I talked to him when he was, like, chillin’ at his pool and just called outreach. He was like, “Hey,” like, “You might be interested in what we’re doing” and he was interested.
MIKE: And, and what made you interested?
TODD: So yeah I’ve been, I’ve been in the media business for a long time and worked at, at startups, I’ve worked at traditional media companies um, and, and to me the most important thing when there’s a really passionate group of people that are following the content and if the, you know, that they love the content but even more importantly I imagine if the contest wasn’t there tomorrow would people be upset? And I, you know, I was already following some of the, uh, some of the pages that uh, that Doing Things was creating but then, you know, I started following all of them and, you know, as I was uh, sitting in my backyard as Reid describes, I would look so forward to the next piece of content that would hit my feed because they would crack me up and they were just, the content they were creating was just so on-base and you know how when you’re going through your feed and sometimes when you see something you’re just like, “Wow, that totally hits me” and I was getting the stuff DM’d to me and I saw it and I’m like “They’re really onto something. They are, are” uh, you know, “hitting that, not just that funny bone but that relevance bone” right? It’s just like, where they can put together the simplest form of content of uh, you know, of an image and a couple of words and it just totally re-resonates. Uh, and then on the business side I was just really, really impressed that uh, that Reid and Derek had built this company without any investment, had built up these multiple revenue streams, had a profitable business and I said, you know, “This, this looks like it’s something special.”
MIKE: And so what are all of the different kind of assets that you all have?
TODD: Yeah, so, I mean the assets are, are our brands and the talent behind the brands, right? So we have about 20 different social brands that we create, that we have created or acquired and while these brands are mostly born on Instagram, a lot of them have expanded not just into the social channels but expanded into the real world. Uh, so for example, uh, we have, uh, we have animals doing things, right? Which was one of the pages doing things that was created early on, uh, you know, Gray Page obviously expanded into Facebook and YouTube and the Tik Tok and the social channels, uh, but it’s also now a TV show in its second season that we did a joint venture with Howie Mandel so there’s Howie Mandel’s Animals Doing Things on NatGeo Wild, so it’s great to see a, a brand take on a life like that. Uh, we have another one, uh, in the PetSpace—Doggos Doing Things. Uh, also, you know, a great brand for, you know, passionate uh, you know, people are passionate about their dogs and we have our first coffee table book coming out called Doggos Doing Things, actually next week. So uh, so uh, it’s brands like that, No Chaser, uh, is another brand of ours where we came up with our own energy drink. So the brands start expanding and taking on a, you know, a life that goes beyond social as well.
MIKE: Where are you guys based out of?
TODD: (LAUGHS) Our homes.
REID: Yeah. So we had an office in Atlanta, our lease was up in February and, and we were like, I kind of saw what was happening and I was like, “I don’t think we should renew the lease ’cause we’re already remote anyways, so um, we’re remote but I’m in Atlanta, Todd’s in New York, um, bunch of people in LA and a lot of our team’s moving to LA, including me, uh, this fall.
MIKE: Have you, um, uh, well I, I have a few thoughts, but one question is—have you ever posted in Dogs Doing Things and the dog owner is like, “You don’t have rights to use my dog on your page,” like, does that exist?
REID: So, in the very early days of running these pages, especially uh, well, No Chaser, it was formally known as Drunk People Doing Things, people would send us, like thousands of videos a week and still do. And so like, we were like, “We have to figure out a way to protect ourselves and play defense with the IP, you know? ’Cause there’s people submitting videos and we wanna make sure that the people submitting the videos actually have the rights, so we…
REID: …built this system for uh, submissions, for video submissions and picture submissions, um, so we’re, we either have permission from someone or the filmer and the owner of the content submit it over and sign over the rights to us and in exchange we’re shouting them out and growing their audience. Uh, and anywhere else they’re doing revenue shares, uh, with videos we’re doing outreach for.
MIKE: It’s pretty fascinating that you started in your parents’ basement and then now you’re partnering with Howie Mandel, you’re writing a book and…
MIKE: …what are you eventually, what’s your vision?
REID: Yeah, um, I think continuing to start new things, uh, whenever we can think of them. One, our, our newest show, original show, is called All Gas No Breaks and it’s absolutely exploding. Like it’s definitely the, the most, like, the fastest growing thing we’ve ever launched. Um, Andrew’s the host, Andrew Callahan, he’s like, an incredible talent, um, we bought him an RV and he’s traveling around the country with the team filming uh, you know, interviews and stuff like that, so um, that’s definitely like the future of the show. We actually, we landed a development deal for TV or, or streaming uh, service with uh, Tim and Eric, um from Adult Swim so, so that’s really exciting. And we have some other uh, celeb, another celeb, like huge one, that’s really interested. Uh, can’t say his name but uh, that’s gonna be, you know, maybe on Netflix or HBO, um, and it’s kind of like Borat except Andrew is not going out and being crazy. He’s just like keeping a straight face and like, asking people what’s up and then he just lets them go and it’s, it’s really fun to watch.
MIKE: Is there, is there a lot of competition in the meme space?
REID: Yeah, I’d say there’s a lot of meme accounts where we’re really tight with all the ones that matter. Uh, just ’cause we kind of came up with, with them or before them and like, helped them out with growth like we used to, you know, shout out rotations with them. Um, so there’s definitely, there’s a ton of meme accounts out there but I’d say we’re, we’re like the biggest and have the, you know, all the relationships with all of the ones we don’t own.
MIKE: So what, what do you think is the key to why your meme accounts took off? Like, what was your recipe that you think…’cause everyone, to some degree, everyone goes, “I’m funny. I can create…” I can tell you right now when I put up a meme it does nothing, okay? Like no one cares. Literally I have to take off my shirt, practically be in a Speedo and jump in a pool while doing the Macarena and then suddenly people will be sharing it, right? I can’t figure out the algorithm to save my life. Like, doesn’t, aren’t there a lot of people that think they’re funny and they just can’t pull it off?
REID: Yeah, definitely. Um, I mean, I was always the class clown and like, I knew that I could make people laugh so, and I thought that I had a good tastes in comedy, like, so if I’m not making every single post I would, you know, if I’d see something out there that was really funny, I would know that that’s the one, like, “That one’s gonna kill it” and then repost it with credit to whoever made it. Um, so that’s how I started Shithead Steve and it’s still run it like we’re creating original content but also finding the original stuff out there, um, so it’s like the best of both worlds.
MIKE: What was one that, what was one that bombed for you? Where you were like, “This is a hit. This one is gonna be the best” and then you were like, “Oh gosh, it just didn’t…”? What, what would be an example?
REID: Of something I thought would do well that didn’t?
MIKE: That you thought was gonna CRUSH it.
REID: Um, yeah I, I used to, like I don’t make as much, uh, content ’cause I’m just like running the company and have a ton on my plate but like, back when I was, it was just me and I was making content every day for Shithead Steve, like, I would definitely go through dry spells where like, I just was flopping, you know? Like comedians, I love hearing about comedians talk about how they go up onstage and just like, completely eat shit and no one’s laughing And I think that’s kind of like self-deprecating and funny in a way in itself. It’s like, that was the worst meme, like, “Fuck it. Who cares? Move on” but, but yeah, I definitely had a lot of those moments.
MIKE: And have done standup before?
REID: No. I definitely like, would like to just get drunk and try it one time, like, out with friends and just like eat, try to eat shit and maybe I could be funny but I haven’t done it yet.
MIKE: Well, um, so, what, what for you, Todd, is kind of your vision moving forward? Like, where do you see yourselves in five years as president of the company?
TODD: Yeah, yeah, no, it’s great-it’s a great question. I mean we’re, we’re just continuing to scale the business, right? So the, as, as we look at all of our brands, the, the filter we have on everything is that it makes you laugh, right? And Reid and the rest of the team are so funny. Uh, so we look at our existing 20 brands and we think about how we can keep growing those audiences and keeping those audience engaged on all the platforms but we, we also look at how each of those brands can build up its own revenue streams and, I’ll come back to that but the uh, the other part is we also look to, uh, you know, other creators in the community, um, and think about the platform that we’ve created and what other brands might be bring on board as part of doing things and, you know, a couple of examples that uh, you know, Reid and Derek well before we got connected, uh, they saw a couple of brands that they just loved and loved the voice and the comedy and the talent behind them and they acquired them. So two of the ones, or a couple of the ones that we acquired were Middle Class Fancy, uh, and uh, you know, the creator behind that is now part of our-our team and Doggos Doing Things with John Trulli. So they have a great eye for talent to bring into the team and expand those voices. Um, and then for each of the brands, you know, we start thinking of all of the different revenue streams, right? So there’s the branded content that we do with-that we do with partners. There’s eCommerce, we mentioned some of the products that we’re selling but we’re selling product every single day that is really, really funny that resonates with each of the individual audiences. Uh, the best way, yeah, the way, the way I like to describe some of the, uh, gag gifts and funny products that we sell is it’s kind of like a, you know there’s this-the store Spencer’s in the mall…
MIKE: Yeah, oh—you read my mind.
TODD: …but it’s the…
TODD: Were you, are you a big fan of Spencer’s?
MIKE: Like, I remember they had, like, what was it, like the Snail Book or the poop books and they had, like, oh my God, I remember there was one like, with snails eating snails and they just—so that’s where you went for like a funny card, like back in the day like…
MIKE: …you were like, “I’m not going to Hallmark, I’m going to Spencer’s” and I’m gonna get my lava lamp while I’m there.”
TODD: Yes. Absolutely. And fluorescent posters in the back.
MIKE: Of Bob Marley, right.
TODD: Yep. So (STAMMERS) that’s, we are more of the 2020 social media version of that with the, the products that we’re selling. Um, and then, you know, as more and more consumers in the audience is getting involved, as Reid mentioned, they’re sending us their content and then we have a licensing business to license uh, the content out as well. So we, we look at each of the brands, our-our brands and uh, you know, continuing to grow and engage that audience but think of all the different businesses we can get into with each of them.
MIKE: And do you find it’s ever hard in terms of when you wanna partner because of what you guys do is not, well first of all it’s like, I would say younger generation gets it more than older generation and they understand the value of it. You clearly do. I mean I’m 40, I don’t know how old you are, um, but do you find that ever pitching it with partners or, like, they don’t fully get it?
TODD: Yeah, yeah, I mean there’s, there’s definitely an education that has to happen, but when we, when you actually look at the numbers and you see that there’s 60 million people that are following us, this is a real thing. Uh, and you look at how people are communicating today, you know, it’s a very, people love communicating in a visual way and Reid mentioned before, um, in terms of what people are DMing to each other, I would, I would ask, you know, Mike, you go look at Instagram in the past 10 DMs, I bet a few of those are memes that your friends were sending to you or you were…
MIKE: Mm hmm.
TODD: …sending to, to a friend group. Um, so this is how people are communicating today. And it’s how people are engaging with content today so yeah, there are some partners that are, you know, haven’t really understood the medium and what it can mean for them, and that’s part of our job is to evangelize uh, vangelize it for them.
MIKE: The book comes out, Doggos Doing Things comes out, what, July what?
MIKE: So this book because it’s gonna, this, this episode will drop uh, the week comes out so if you’re listening, go buy this book for someone. But you guys tell me why they need to go send this book to someone especially during this period of time, because it seems like a funny entertaining book while everyone’s in this coronavirus and isolated and everything going on. So tell me why they need to buy this as a gift for someone.
REID: Yeah, it’s definitely like a different take on like the, the classic uh, dog photo with the joke humor. Uh, it’s like so John Trulli, uh, the creator of Doggos Doing Things, he’s, I consider him the funniest person I’ve ever met or, you know, see on the internet, um, and it’s like, it’s hard to explain but the pictures are funny but really cute and then the captions that he puts on there are just like, it doesn’t sound like a typical, you know, dog person made the captions. He, he loves dogs but like, it’s like hilarious and your grandma might not get it, um, but people our age definitely understand and it’s, it’s like that meme humor mixed with the dog humor.
MIKE: It’s almost taking different breeds of dogs and they have starring roles, really, in this, in this Doggos Doing Things. And then with those different breeds and the different, um, colors and what have you, you, you put what’s call-it’s basically called a meme in a book, so it’s a great gift to someone who’s looking to cheer them up, especially people who love animals, right?
REID: Yeah. Yeah and it’s like he created his own language. Like the doggo language, it’s like what you would imagine a dog is thinking uh, whatever the situation is with the picture, so it’s like a dog with its hand-or its paw on a cake or something. And like John has his doggo, like, language that’s just hilarious.
MIKE: So, because, believe it or not, like if I post something of a dog on Facebook, it can get shared like 500 times, literally or a thousand times or what have you, because a lot of our audience and, on Facebook is actually the platform where a lot of my demographic live so…
REID: Mm hmm.
MIKE: …they love dogs. So, they wanna buy this dog, Doggos Doing Things, and so really they wanna buy this book to cheer someone up and that they could uh, it sounds like someone whose grandma would get the jokes ’cause it’s kind of funny.
REID: Yeah, yeah, it might just take them a second. My grandparents were like trying to understand the, they’re like trying to read it all and like, I could just see ’em trying to take it in and understand it, uh, but like someone, uh, a little bit younger would definitely get it, it’s just like a different take on, on the typical dog humor but the pictures are amazing, the memes, the text is hilarious and it’s like, definitely one of those coffee table reads that’ll just make your day a lot better.
MIKE: So Todd—why do you love Doggos Doing Things?
TODD: Why do I love Doggos Doing Things? Well I uh, I love dogs, I’m an owner of uh, of two uh, two cute pugs as well, um, it, because it actually, it takes what we do on Doggos Doing Things and, you know, as a social media account, and actually puts it into a very digestible coffee table book. And I think (STAMMERS) that is the emphasis there. You don’t have to sit down and read this in one sitting. It’s, you know, you could flip through, it’s a series of memes of these dogs that uh, you know, you can read a couple at a time and get it, get a great laugh. But uh, I think it goes back to the North Star that we have for, for everything—you can’t help but look at this book and smile.
MIKE: Mm hmm.
TODD: And you can’t help but laugh a little bit and that’s, again, we always go back to everything that we do, the filter for that, it has to make you laugh.
MIKE: Well I really appreciate you guys coming on Always Evolving, educating us, sounds like you guys are building an incredible business, doing some exciting, fun things, it goes to show that if you just start with what you’re passionate about, uh, what’s entertaining to you and what you love that you can create something that no one else has created before and so you guys really marched to your own beat and trailblaze your own path and I think that’s really badass. I really appreciate you guys coming on.
REID: Yeah, thanks for having us on.
TODD: Thank you. Thanks for having us.
MIKE: All right. Well guys, um, so check out their new book Doggos Doing Things, uh, for a good laugh and until next time you can join my Facebook group on Tuesdays, free self-help empowerment group, 5 PM pacific time, click to subscribe and follow these guys. So until next time thanks guys.
(END OF PODCAST)