Two nights ago I became a full member of the 21st century digital society.
At the insistent (and persistent) urging of my 15 year-old niece, I finally signed up for the MSN Instant Messenger service.
While we were chatting via IM, my niece asked me if I had heard any of the Chuck Norris jokes that have been “going around”. I said no, but being a fan of Chuck Norris I asked her to tell me more.
So, she sent me one:
“When the boogeyman goes to sleep every night, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.”
“Chuck Norris can lead a horse to water and make it drink.”
I was instantly intrigued.
So, after our IM session, I did some Google research on this entertaining phenomenon. What I found amazed me.
There are 40,000 “Chuck Norris Jokes” circulating the Internet. The website that seems to have started it (www.4Q.cc/Chuck) has gotten over 50 million hits since last summer.
The craze was actually started by a college student named Ian Spector. As the trend exploded he even got to meet Mr. Norris.
Norris may be 65, but “he looked like the kind of guy who could handle a tough guy,” Ian said.
“It was all a little surreal,” Ian said.
To learn more, read this article.
Chuck Norris has not made a movie in years. His latest work, Walker, Texas Ranger, ended in 2001. His movie career peaked in the 80’s.
Yet, here we are in 2006 and millions of kids are using him in their daily conversation.
And the jokes are not belittling. They celebrate his toughness, his skills and his strength.
“When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn’t lifting himself up – he’s pushing the Earth down.”
I like this because it illustrates the power of a brand and the power of a new technology to reinvent a brand.
Without the Internet, Mr. Norris’ star would be much less bright these days. And because of newer technologies within the Internet (like Instant Messenging) more people will connect with the Chuck Norris brand.
Like I did (thanks to my niece).
When Chuck Norris was active making movies and TV shows, his characters always shared a certain moral highground. He almost always portrayed a good guy who was compelled to right a wrong and deal justice to the bad guys.
In fact, Norris turned down a role in the movie “Karate Kid” reportedly because it would have forced him to depict a martial artist in an unfavorable light. (From Answers.com)
He also was one of the first (if not THE first) American born martial arts action hero movie stars. So, he built his reputation, his brand, by using his toughness and his fighting skills for good.
And today, that’s the message conveyed by the Chuck Norris jokes. Sure, they’re exaggerated and silly. But the meaning is still there. And it’s true to the brand identity Norris started building 30 years ago.
Now that’s what I call a powerful brand!
But then again, Chuck Norris IS a powerful man…
“Chuck Norris doesn’t wear a watch. He decides what time it is.”