Why the ‘Kyle’ angry white male meme is bad news for Monster Energy
An internet meme called “Kyle”–which is rising in popularity as a representation of white male aggression–does not bode well for Monster Energy drink, investment banking advisory firm Evercore ISI warned on Friday.
The firm pointed to a video called “When Your Name Is Kyle” (above) that has racked up more than 2 million views on YouTube. The video, published by stand-up comedian Trevor Wallace, features an enraged camouflage-wearing, heavy-metal-listening character who is shown spray-painting “Fuck U Dad” on a wall. He bites open a can of Monster and chugs it. The video includes other brands: “Kyle” is also apparently also a fan of Mtn Dew, Axe body spray and Fireball whiskey.
But Evercore specifically called out the potential harm to Monster.
“Entertainment factor aside, the meme illustrates one of our biggest concerns around Monster Energy’s competitive position and brand equity in the U.S.; that the Monster brand may be less appealing to young, mainstream consumers who are looking for lifestyle brands with which they closely identify,” Evercore stated. Those threats include what Evercore has identified as “next wave beverage brands” that include an upstart energy drink brand called C4 that is positioned as a pre-workout drink.
States Evercore: “We worry that the Monster brand may start to either be seen as ‘your father’s energy drink’ or a drink for people that see Kyle as a role model.”
A representative for Monster Beverage Corp. did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
The meme is a perfect illustration of how modern marketers can lose control of their brand narrative no matter how carefully they plan their own marketing.
The “Kyle” meme has a dedicated Reddit thread that includes plenty of Monster imagery. One user posted an image of a Monster-branded helicopter and truck traversing the desert, with the headline “live footage of Kyles making their way to area 51 raid,” a reference to the Facebook event-inspired movement to visit Area 51, the military site that conspiracy theorists claim is home to aliens.
Knowyourmeme.com describes “Kyle” as “generally presented as rage-filled and aggressive, and he is a fan of Monster Energy Drinks and Axe body spray, which has been documented in the Kyle Punches Drywall meme.”
The site traces the origins of the meme back to a Vine video posted in 2015 called "White Kid Fight."