Memes: Straight Outta Marketing

Over the past few weeks there’s been a building buzz surrounding the new film Straight Outta Comptom The Story of N.W.A. Original N.W.A. member and Beats by Dre co-founder Dr. Dre has certainly had a lot to do with promoting the new movie. While Universal Studios is likely handling a lot of the promotion of the film itself, Beats Electronics has created a meme generator that has led to an incredible number of shares across a variety of social media platforms. Specifically, Instagram (#straightoutta) is well into the hundreds of thousands of posts and shares.

This of course isn’t the first example of meme marketing, which is part of an advertisers fight to get in front of their audience by whatever memes necessary. The rise in memes has been sporadic over the years, but has emerged as an effective way to convince consumers to help spread the word themselves. Essentially, memes are a good way for advertisers to circumvent things like ad blockers and other things that prevent them from infiltrating consumer searches and experiences.

Memes, as dumb as they might seem at times, are inherently what all advertising should strive to be, maybe not specifically in execution, but through their clever, easily understood, and memorable messages. One of the most widespread and memorable memes to date is the Dos Equis Most Interesting Man In The World meme. Simply Googling that phrase provides almost 500 million results, which include a wikipedia page, lists of his best quotes, a youtube channel, an endless number or articles, and of course hundreds of thousands of images featuring homemade and personalized “Most Interesting Man” quotes. It’s by far one of the best examples of an accidental meme, and a great extension of the Dos Equis ad campaign.

While image memes are simple and easily reproduced, memes easily extend into other mediums such as video. There’s clearly a lot more work involved in offering up a video extension of a meme, but that didn’t stop multiple outlets from creating their own versions of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”, which debuted in 2011. While not quite as meme-friendly as images, Video has a tendency to become much more viral, and when combined with good production it can top the charts in no time. Some of the Call Me Maybe executions, like the Miami Dolphins Cheerleader version, were just lip syncing music videos, while Sesame Street created a catchy more family-friendly version that not only brought attention to the show, but Jepsen’s song. Each video has achieved over 22 million and 19 million views respectively

It’s hard to contest that the ROI on a meme is incredible as the content is predominantly user generated, but getting to the point of being a meme isn’t that easy and can sometimes take a brand by surprise. Meme-able executions probably make their way into marketing briefs more often than not these days, but likely aren’t relied upon to solely promote a product, brand, or service. While ad blocking has already cost publishers around $22 billion this year, the secret formula to creating affordable viral content and memes is still somewhat a mystery.