It seems we are not all done with András Arató. I mean, the gentleman keeps popping up everywhere. On social media. In my mobile phone gallery. And since last year, he's been interested in making special appearances on Covid-19 campaigns.
The Hungarian electrical engineer, who has gained widespread fame as the famous meme star 'Hide the Pain Harold,' was one of the faces of an advertising campaign in 2020.
During the nascent time of the Covid-19 pandemic, Carrefour, the French retail giant, released an ad thanking France's doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers for their determination, hard work and persistence.
The ad copy read ‘Merci les Héros,’ (Thank You, Heroes) with various healthcare workers in uniforms. And a familiar face also appears in the background.
Carrefour reacted rather well to what was obviously not intentional. "Apparently, not everyone has Internet culture (not the person who made the visual anyway)", the brand tweeted.
But that is old news! 'Hide the Pain Harold' has now struck again to tickle our ribs in these challenging times. In yet another instance, the meme became the face of a Swedish COVID-19 vaccination website for a few hours before the concerned health authority realized 'Harold' was actually one of the Internet's most-recognized figures. The stock photo was used on a website where Stockholm city residents can book their COVID-19 vaccines. The photograph has since been taken down.
"We did not know it was a meme until it was brought to our attention. But of course, we have made sure to change the picture now," says Hanna Fellenius, a spokeswoman for Stockholm Region.
For those who do not know, Mr. Arató's became viral back in 2011 because of memes featuring him with a smile that the online world found simultaneously depressing and endearing. In the early years, he wasn't happy with the notoriety, but after six years, he embraced his meme status, and more importantly, the love and support of Internet fans.
Today, he uses his celebrity to commercial advantage: fronting advertising campaigns for German retailer Otto and giving a TED talk.
On a personal note, Hide The Pain, Harold is one of my favourite memes. Here's to wishing him a healthy life (and to many more such goof-ups, of course)!