How Meme Marketing has become a Must-have Arsenal for the Modern-day Marketer

29 Jun,2021


By Bhuvi Gupta


Bhuvi GuptaDifferent reports peg India’s social media user base anywhere between 350–400 million users. That is roughly the population of the United States. The millennial and Gen-Z generations that form a bulk of this number talk in a universal language of emojis and memes. Memes have penetrated our style of communication indelibly.


A subset of moment marketing – Memevertising – is not just having a moment but is here to stay. Like emojis, the language of memes is universal. Memes work because they take universally relatable scenarios coupled with a striking expression on the faces of the meme star(s). This creative hence can lend itself to multiple and different interpretations and hence spreads.


The word meme has its origins in the Greek word mimetic, which means to imitate. As per Wikipedia, a meme is formally defined as “a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices, that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme. Considering the increase in time spent online due to the pandemic, and difficulty in communicating via non-verbal signals, now more than ever before memes should be an essential part of a marketers toolkit.


In today’s hyper-connected world where all brands aspire to go ‘viral’ at all times meme marketing or memevertising is a great way to actually accomplish the goal.


Don’t be blatant, be subtle:

Memes have a unique structure in which they put a humorous or relatable twist in a piece of communication that is essentially derivative. However, the best memes do not reference brands via their name but the more intangible elements such as the personality, positioning and values. Like moment marketing, memes capitalise on contemporary situations such as sporting tournaments like IPL, Wimbledon, politics, trending TV shows and movies etc. Hence, most memes have a shelf life so timing becomes key.


Doing it right:

Today, brands have elaborate content calendars where in they play to every celebrated stereotype and day just to ride on the trend. A lot of this effort often gets lost because the messaging is generic, it doesn’t fit the target audience, and there is a glut of content.  While leveraging memes, this risk is heightened, as memes by their nature are light-hearted. So treading with caution is essential to avoid a misfire.


The caveat is of course that even when consciously trying to ride on trends, brands must understand their brand, target audience, consumer behaviour profiles so that relevant people discover the generated virality.


Agility & Responsiveness: 

Brands need to be agile and responsive to create and sustain brand value today. This is true of managing their reputation online, assessing dynamic consumer behaviors and moment marketing. Most of this, brands are already doing. Memevertising is but an extension of that.  To capitalise on the day that social media posting has to create a few different expression and globally known stars.


Spreading the message:

In terms of the marketing funnel memevertising fits into  ‘awareness’ stage. By capitalising on trends, brands have an opportunity to get discovered by an audience that may not have been exposed to the brand before.


Hence, if brands nail their memevertising they must ensure there is an effort to distribute their messaging. This can be done by animating memes into GIFs and sharing them on GIPHY, and Google-owned Tenor. These platforms allow brands to have brand channels and are integrated with social media platforms like Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook etc.


Netflix, Drake & Irrfan Khan – The meme:

More than his music, Drake would be remembered for how he has used memes to create his indelible brand across the world. Whether or not one has heard his music the world has definitely seen and mostly forwarded one of the renditions of his ‘Hotline Bling’ meme. A designed strategy, which has helped him gain worldwide, fame and has a million lessons for marketers.

Irrfan Khan also famously replicated this meme while marketing the film ‘Hindi Medium‘ with AIB in 2017. Khan replicated the Top 6 trending meme formats at the time. The irony of course is that all six original memes are as popular today as they were four years ago.


Netflix is another master at memevertising. A glance at their social media timeline is a lesson for budding memevertisers, because they are witty, on trend, never blatant about their brand name.


In conclusion, memes and gifs are here to stay and to brand must use them in their digital marketing calendars.




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