I Don’t Always Advertise, But When I Do…
If you read my last blog post you know that I’ve recently become obsessed with the idea of having the consumer advertise for you. Last time, I explored how experiential marketing can be used to create hype for your product and can be broadcasted through social media for a smaller cost than it would take to broadcast a national commercial. This time I’m going to analyse the ultimate form of mass consumer advertisements: memes.
Those who have spent any decent amount of time procrastinating on the internet are familiar with the pictures that are overlaid with the white text and black outlines. There are several “meme” images that each have a certain format of joke that every post follows. For those internet savvy individuals the word meme might make you roll your eyes, thinking about how lame they were and still are. Like all fun and cool things, too many people hopped on board and it became not fun and cool. It didn’t take long for high schools to start making posters with them or grandma to start posting them on her Facebook wall.
However you feel about memes, they’re undeniably some of the most seen and shared images on the internet, which is why they can be a gold mine for advertising. Consider the Most Interesting Man in the World meme. The meme reinvents the phrase “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, I drink Dos Equis” from the years-long beer campaign to make a humorous or relatable phrase. Every time someone makes one of the silly “I don’t always ___ but when I do, ___” pictures, the image of the Dos Equis bottle is shared to thousands of people. That’s free advertising. In addition, most people consider their interaction with the image to positive, as they usually get a laugh from it (or at least a slightly harder than average exhale through the nose). Dos Equis isn’t the only brand lucky enough to have their advertisement meme-ified. Other notable examples include Lipton Tea “but that’s none of my business” and Old el Paso’s “why not both?”
The question is now, is it possible to intentionally make your advertisement a meme? I think you can certainly try, but the advertisement has to be applicable. Primarily, the tagline has to be meme worthy. It has to have a phrase that can be the format for other ideas. Secondly, it should probably have an interesting character tied to it. If you look at most memes, the have some kind of person behind them who is imagined as “saying” the phrase written on the meme. Beyond that, the only thing you can do as an advertiser is to try to get the ball rolling. I don’t know how you’d do that, but that’s none of my business.