We’ve all seen memes. They’re behind some of the most hilarious and incredible things on the internet. A meme is essentially any idea that is replicated en masse with more or less accuracy according to contexts of interpretation, prevailing social trends, etc. They’re fascinating not just because they spread, but also because they change.

Why an idea becomes a meme and how it develops are two of what we think are the most exciting facets of contemporary mass communication. It’s not too difficult to figure out why: if you can create or manipulate a meme that carries your message across the internet and into popular culture at lightning speed, you’ve got yourself a marketing device that is not only super effective, but also highly economical.

A lot of people in the industry have studied memes and put them to work. The technique is called ‘memetic marketing’, but it’s still only nascent. Most of it is ‘memejacking’ -taking pre-existing memes and hijacking them for promotional use.

You know Chuck Norris? You know all those memes? Even if you don’t think you do, you probably do. Blizzard’s World of Warcraft marketing team decided to take advantage of them:

Another example is the Obama Administration’s use of cats to win votes in the swing state of Ohio. Now cats and cat memes are all over the internet, so this shows some serious tact in the campaign room:

Not all use of memes has been memejacking, though. Old Spice created a meme that did them no shortage of favours. We’re sure you remember this:

Well that evolved into a huge campaign with dozens of videos and hundreds of tweets and Facebook posts. It’s crucial to the brand’s identity. And then were community video responses and remixes and all kinds of adaptations.

So there you have it. Memes. Understanding how to create and manipulate them, and how to predict their behaviour, is a skill no marketer or advertiser can afford to do without.

What are your thoughts on memes? Which are your favourites?

Or if you think a meme-based campaign is what you need, give us a call.