Working in the digital media industry as I do, Ad Week is something of a bible. But it would be remiss of me if I didn’t pick them up on their recent report on Instagram star FuckJerry.
Entitled ‘How an Instagram Star With a Name Like FuckJerry Makes $30,000 Per Sponsored Post’, the relatively glowing profile penned by the normally stellar Lauren Johnson was a disappointingly doughy puff piece about an immoral charlatan who should be held accountable for stealing other people’s creations the same way Carlos Mencia has.
However, in her 864-word profile, Johnson gives only a cursory mention to the fact that FuckJerry has amassed his ridiculously lucrative Instagram empire on the backs original content creators to whom he has never doled out a cent and without ever having created any original content himself.
And when I say “empire”, as Johnson notes in her profile, Elliot Tebele (I’ll stick to FuckJerry) has turned what originally started as a Tumblr channel to aggregate a collection of “pictures he found on the internet” into a social media network boasting 40 million followers, as well as “a clothing line, a card game, a late-night TV show pilot with MTV and a small social media shop called Jerry Media”.
Of course, one can’t really expect FuckJerry to be dishing out royalties to the people who create the content he shares on his insanely popular Instagram channel, since the content he shares consists simply of memes made by anonymous creators and then posted to the internet where they are gathered by FuckJerry and re-shared for profit.
It’s also probably unfair to claim that FuckJerry doesn’t post any original content. According to Johnson’s profile, FuckJerry and his team make between 10 and 20 Facebook posts and several Instagram posts per day.
Most of this is comprised of the ‘curated’ (or stolen, depending on how you look at it) memes he is famous for, but his team also create 20 pieces of original branded content per month. Johnson helpfully does the math for us and tells us that this equates to “less than 5 percent of the total content” FuckJerry shares out.
When Johnson finally mentions the fact that, like The Fat Jew and other similar meme aggregators, FuckJerry has copped it from real comedians whose work FuckJerry has ‘curated’ for his own financial gain, she more or less allows him to get off scot-free:
“When asked about reports from comedians who are mad that FuckJerry steals and reposts jokes, Tebele said his team is working on creating more original content. ‘At first, I would say it was 80 percent curated and 20 percent original. Now I would say it’s 60-40,’ he said.”
It’s a far cry from the 95-5 ratio Johnson estimates earlier in her story, but we have to forgive FuckJerry for being a little hazy on the math considering he’s so busy creating 20 pieces of original content per month.
And just what kinds of brands are working with this social media-savvy joke thief?
Everyone from Burger King to Paramount Pictures, who hired FuckJerry and his team to come up with a series of painfully unfunny memes to promote their new film Office Christmas Party (if you’ve seen the film, the pairing actually makes a lot of sense).
Unfortunately, most of the flak aimed at meme aggregators seems to have fallen squarely on the head of The Fat Jew, and FuckJerry has managed to escape relatively unscathed, though he does get several mentions in Amanda Hess’s excellent report on meme aggregators published in Slate.
Part of why Johnson’s profile is so unnerving is the fact that now many brands and advertisers who may previously have been unaware of FuckJerry and his considerable platform, could now be looking to join his rapidly expanding list of clients.
Johnson has missed a vital opportunity to expose a rampant and unapologetic content thief and has instead written what is tantamount to native content for FuckJerry and his fraudulent media empire.
Image: Bruno Moraes