An example of a meme used as an advertisement in a colgate whitening pen ad.

Memes in Advertising / Corporate Memes

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Updated Jul 22, 2021 at 07:01PM EDT by Zach.

Added Jul 21, 2021 at 06:24PM EDT by Rebecca Rhodes.

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About

Memes in Advertisements, also known as Corporate Memes, are memes used by a company or organization to push a message or product towards a younger audience. Often, they are viewed unfavorably by the target audience and show a cringeworthy misunderstanding of memes and meme culture, though they are sometimes well-received.

Origin

On August 13th, 2008, Martin Bowling began a successful Twitter[1] campaign advertising an alcoholic beverage called Zima through jokes and mockery. His earliest known tweet about the product (seen below) quickly led to viral debates and memes. After the successful exposure of Zima through the use of memes, other companies began to follow with their own meme marketing campaigns, most of which were highly unsuccessful. Zima's usage of internet humor and memes serves as one of the earliest known forms of corporate marketing.



Spread

In 2011, a company called HipChat created a billboard (seen below) to advertise their instant messaging tool. As a result, they saw a 300 percent increase in Google searches.[2] The campaign was widely considered successful as a result of the incorporation of the Y U No Guy meme.


YU NO USE HIPCHAT? HipChat 416986 OCBS ATA

In 2012, HubChat[3] created a meme (seen below) to market their advertisement website. The company deemed it successful in generating interest because, according to them, it received 60 likes, 53 comments and 337 shares on Facebook. This was one of the earliest examples of a digital meme utilizing a format to advertise a product.


Marketers OMGI WE HAVE "CUPCAKES" todayt Igmy joh. ryumyumyum emarketingaever What my friends think I do What my parents think I do What sales thinks I do SPAM What society thinks I do What leads think I do What I think I do Hubspot

Advertising memes became more mainstream between 2014 and 2018. One notable example was an ad for Fenty Beauty[4] (seen below) in November 2018 that references Thanksgiving Clapback memes.


Fenty Beauty @fentybeauty When you need to hit your aunties with that #CLAPBACK over dinner tonight BEAUTY OF allure THE BEAUTY RT 2018 WINNER BEST AWARD FENTY BEAUTY

Subreddit Creation

By 2021, memes had become an incredibly popular but rarely successful marketing technique. The subreddit /r/FellowKids[5] was formed to catalog the most cringeworthy examples of bad usage of memes in advertisements, including brands such as Slim Jim, Disney and iFunny. The top post of all time (seen below), uploaded in 2017 by u/Asmor, received over 64,300 upvotes and 1,000 comments in six months.



Among Us Advertising Memes

Since 2020, one popular trend has been to reference the game Among Us in advertisements. This includes randomly inserting the word sus into ads with little understanding of its true meaning and is almost never met with positive reception. This TikTok [6] advertisement (seen below) received over 4,300 likes and 1,800 retweets despite being disliked by many in the target audience.


Tweet TikTok @tiktok_us Find your new crewmates today. d TikTok AMONG US TikTok O , 1B+ downloads Free 路 Social Install 11:34 PM 路 17 Feb 21 路 Twitter for Advertisers

The majority of failed corporate memes stem from their exploitation or general lack of understanding in meme culture. Rare instances like @wendy鈥檚 Twitter account, Steak-umm and Denny鈥檚 are among the most highly regarded successful uses of memes as ads or brand recognition.

Wendy鈥檚 Roast Twitter

The Twitter account @wendy鈥檚 is the official profile of Wendy鈥檚 fast-food chain. It gained notoriety for its brutal roasts of Twitter users and other fast-food chains. It is generally admired by the meme community.


B enny JamesI @Bennyls.... 2m v I'm pretty sure the @Wendys twitter account is run by a hacker with a great sense of humor, and the corporation hasn't put a stop to it because "Eh, it's good for business" 91 Wendy's Wendys Replying to @BennylsConfused don't tell everyone our secret 4/5/18, 12:15 PM

How Do You Do, Fellow Kids?

"How Do You Do, Fellow Kids?" is a meme quote and reaction image showing a middle-aged Steve Buscemi dressed up as a teenager holding a skateboard. It is frequently associated with corporate memes as the mental image evoked by bad Gen-Z targeted advertising.


Bagel Bites Sponsored How do you do, fellow Bagel Bites fans? - Bagel Bites Marketing Guy BA9el / BITes

Steak-umm

Steak-umm is a meat brand with a Twitter account that is well-known for posting memes and references to youth culture. It has been met with both praise and disapproval of its marketing technique by young consumers.


This is what happens when children are raised by vegans OFFICIAL AGNEW

Denny鈥檚 Diner

The food chain Denny鈥檚 is known for its use of memes in advertising, with the marketing scheme widely regarded as successful and showing impressive knowledge of meme culture. Its Tumblr blog in particular gained a high level of engagement.


dennys dennys medium-rare pepe snercy Oh for f---- sake who the hell runs this blog Source: dennys #d #food

Various Examples


Freeview O @FreeviewTV 路 19h decide to do See meme on the internet our own version forget that brands kill memes forget that brands kill memes Freeview 1 27 32 139 Doritos O @Doritos 1h Dorit酶s lovin' this rent-free space inside your head Chester Cheetah @Che... 3h "Flamin' Hot" @doritos are only good when Cheetos have sold out. good morning. O 17 27 17 238 war holes @NotDental Replying to @Doritos y'all are owned by the same company shut the f--- up 9:05 AM 路 4/27/21 路 Twitter for iPhone

Search Interest

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