Memes are so popular today, and if you don’t know what that word is – you’re way behind times. Memes are essentially images, links, videos, etc. that are shared across the Internet to make a joke out of an image. A popular one that you may have seen before is the little baby holding up his fist with tons of different captions like, “Didn’t take a nap today. Still functioning.” Maybe you’ve seen the Dos Equis guy, with captions like, “I don’t always eat chips, but when I do, I eat the whole bag in one sitting.” What we often don’t realize is that these memes are being used to sell products because marketing managers and agencies have figured out that memes are incredibly popular. Plus, memes are usually free to generate and share. This means marketing agencies are all about them – they don’t get that many results for Superbowl Ads!
Use of Popular Memes in Ads
Sometimes, a company will create their own meme or share images that relate back to their product, but sometimes they use the popularity of other memes to gain an audience. For example, many companies use viral videos like “The Harlem Shake” or “Honey Badger” to help sell their product. People recognize the video, find it funny, and then support the company or product that was “smart enough” to attract an audience by using the popularity of that specific meme. This is especially prevalent when trying to attract the younger generation, because they are much more “meme-friendly,” and get the references much more than older generations.
Product Memes in Mainstream
It’s hard to imagine that we actually share a company’s meme on a daily basis because the memes are so funny, but often we do. Consider the Dos Equis memes- you’re sharing an advertisement for an alcoholic beverage on a daily basis! Other times, it’s less obvious, and we share a meme with a product in the background or with a generic reference to a product, like Clorox’s “Life’s bleach-able moments” campaign. People find the image funny, share it, and neglect to realize that they are promoting a product and a company. That’s all well and good, but it’s just important to be aware.
Why This Matters
You’re probably thinking, “So what? Memes can be marketing, that’s not a big deal,” and maybe it’s not. But it is important to know that memes used for marketing get seen by just as many people (if not more) than traditional memes that people generate for no specific product. This means that when you share a post that advocates for a specific product, people are going to share it. Marketing and advertising are everywhere – it’s important to know that not everything is totally innocent or meant to be “just fun.” It’s also important that you only share memes that you know are not promoting something you don’t want to support. People and companies actually profit from memes when you share, so make sure you know what you’re sharing.