Lately, every new Internet meme seems to attract a stampede of brands eager to get in on the action. Memevertising is joining more and more marketing plans as the latest “get viral quick” scheme.
Internet memes by definition tap the popular psyche. This creates an opportunity for brands to have a voice in cultural conversations. Yet as more brands gatecrash the party, often late and without bringing much that’s interesting or new, the results can fall flat.
YouTube’s Kevin Mathers described the opportunity in a recent Marketing Week article: “Marketers are interested in engaging with their audience and part of that is tapping into themes that resonate with them, whether that’s being associated with the content they watch individually or taking advantage of a global meme. Brands that took part in the Harlem Shake meme were able to expose a broader audience to their brand.”
Yet many brands aren’t doing much with the opportunities. Pepsi and Lynx (Axe) awkwardly jumped on this Harlem Shake meme bandwagon, creating virtually identical videos of their products dancing the Harlem Shake.
A lot of memevertising feels like this: half-hearted attempts to piggy back on what everyone else is talking about. Marketers can do a lot better than dancing cans and bottles (or nuts).
Marketers need to consider if, when, and how to wade in. Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should. Not every meme is a fit for every brand. There’s also a limited time window on Internet memes, and many brands miss the boat. Most of all, I think that brands should bring something new to the meme. It’s not enough to stamp “brand X was here” on a meme the same as every other brand. The real opportunity is to creatively add something new and unique to the conversation.
As brands continue to piggyback on Internet memes, the ones that resonate are the ones that can be timely, authentic, and, above all, creative.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post. I’ll pick one comment at 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)