Excerpt from this article:
During this year’s Super Bowl, a T-Mobile commercial featuring a text-message joke made people on Twitter very angry. Immediately after it aired, many were quick to point out that the concept of the spot was pulled from a viral tweet by the user @decentbirthday. A knee-jerk reaction followed: “TMobile just stole a meme.” “Hahaha @TMobile really stole the Uber meme for their Lyft #SuperBowlAds commercial.” “@tmobile stole a tweet!”
Except that wasn’t the case: T-Mobile CEO John Legere confirmed that the company did, in fact, pay @decentbirthday to use the Twitter joke as the ad’s inspiration.
The T-Mobile spot is an example of how viral tweets and jokes have real, tangible value for brands hoping to reach a younger, meme-devouring audience through advertising. The initial backlash to the ad, when viewers just assumed it was stolen, is also an example of something else: It still feels like the norm to swipe someone else’s online content without permission or payment rather than to pay for it.