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Behind the Meme: How "Harold" became an internet phenomenon
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Behind the Meme: How "Harold" became an internet phenomenon

Help me! I'm an internet meme!

Harold's actual name is András Arató, he's 73 years old and comes from a Hungarian provincial town called Koszeg. And ... he's an internet meme. How did it come to this? And how does it feel? Harold, no, András, told us.

It all started with a photographer's email. András Aráto attracted his attention, he told him. On holiday pictures. The photographer proposed András to star in a production for a series of stock images. Those are symbolic photographs that magazines or companies can use at low cost to illustrate their articles, marketing materials or presentations. András agreed - and became a doctor, a gardener, a craftsman. His trademark? Well, let's say: a rather tormented smile that's somehow lost on its way from shiningly white teeth to tired-ish eyes. The internet community discovered the pictures - and interpreted them in their own manner. András Arató became "Hide the Pain"-Harold; a real internet meme. We talked to him.

"Harold" you're well-known across the globe as an internet star. Do people even recognize you on the street?

At first, of course, it was strange to be recognized on the street. Then, about a year ago, I decided that, since I cannot stop the popularity, I should accept the situation and instead of others making funny memes out of me, I will build my own personality on social media.

Since then, more people stop me on the street for a picture with them, or to shake my hand, to add me on social media. Or to even invite me for a drink!

How about you: Can you laugh about memes? Do you have a favourite one?

Honestly: It is a good feeling to know that so many people love me. My fans still make memes too, of course. After all, they're the ones that originally invented "Hide the pain"-Harold. They usually make me laugh as well. My favorite memes that do not include me would be those that use classic art and show society’s ignorance.

There's been quite some buzz around you lately. Now, you're even starring in an online commercial by the German online retailer OTTO. Have you ever imagined it'd come to this? And would you ever have any new stock images produced with you?

A few years ago, it would have never occurred to me to star in a commercial. If I were invited to do a stock photoshoot now, I wouldn’t say no. However, I would carefully pick the photographer and the type of photos they take.

Starting today, András a.k.a. Harold stars in a new online commercial by OTTO. And shows his very best characters.

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