What Is Meme Marketing? Meme Marketing In A Nutshel

Meme marketing is any marketing strategy that uses memes to promote a brand. The term “meme” itself was popularized by author Richard Dawkins over 50 years later in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. In the book, Dawkins described how ideas evolved and were shared across different cultures. The internet has enabled this exchange to occur at an exponential rate, with the first modern memes emerging in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Understanding meme marketing

Most associated memes with the internet, but the first recorded instance of a meme appeared around 1919 in the Wisconsin Octopus, a magazine published by the University of Wisconsin. 

The meme, which featured two picture panes not unlike a comic strip, depicted the expectations and realities of dating.

A similar style meme was then published in satirical magazine The Judge two years later, describing the familiar situation where we think we look better in a photograph than we actually do.

The term “meme” itself was coined by author Richard Dawkins over 50 years later in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene.

In the book, Dawkins described how ideas evolved and were shared across different cultures.

The internet has enabled this exchange to occur at an exponential rate, with the first modern memes emerging in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Today, memes are as popular as they are diverse and multi-faceted. They are especially favored by younger consumers, with 75% of Millennials sharing memes and 38% following meme-based social media accounts

Brands have now realized the immense potential of memes as part of their marketing strategies. Memes are used in marketing because of their ability to communicate attitudes and situations with brevity.

Memes also allow the business to relate to consumers on a more personal level.

How can businesses incorporate meme marketing?

While there is no concrete process describing the creation of a meme marketing campaign, it can be useful to consider these pointers:

Define the brand

As with any marketing strategy, meme marketing must reflect the core values of the brand it is promoting. The business should choose its memes wisely and avoid using unrelated memes simply because they are popular.

Ensure the meme is relatable

The meme must also be understood by a broad swathe of the target audience for marketing to be effective. It is also important to consider any cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic issues associated with the ideal buyer.

Take advantage of trends

The most popular memes that go viral tend to be associated with current events. In a process called memejacking, businesses can take advantage of these trends by adapting the meme or the event to suit their product.

Keep it simple

Marketers should also avoid using complex, obscure, or niche memes as a general rule. These memes are more likely to fall flat and, in any case, will only capture a small subset of the target audience.

Follow the rules

Consumers are repulsed by meme marketing that tries too hard to be humorous or is used in the wrong context.

To avoid these problems, marketers need to understand the meaning or humor behind the meme and most importantly, ensure it is still recognizable once it has been adapted to suit.

Meme marketing examples

Here are some of the more popular examples of meme marketing in recent years.


BarkBox is an online pet subscription box platform that sells dog toys, treats, and other goodies.

The company is a well-known proponent of meme marketing because so many memes feature dogs.

To that end, BarkBox is quick to latch on to any so-called “Doggo” meme to promote its products and bring its community of 600,000 dog lovers together.


The Gucci brand is built on luxury, grace, and sophistication.

However, the company decided to launch a new meme marketing campaign called #TFWGucci where it released a series of humorous and relatable memes in collaboration with famous artists.

In one such meme, the glum portrait of a woman painted by renaissance artist Agnolo Bronzino was accompanied by the text “When he buys you flowers instead of a Gucci watch.

The campaign showed consumers that Gucci was trendier and more up to speed with current events than many had assumed.

Burger King

Fast-food chain Burger King is also known for its witty and creative meme marketing campaigns. 

In one example, the company released an image with six chicken nuggets arranged to look like the abdominal muscles of someone who exercises. At the top of the image was the slogan “The only six-pack I care about”.

Key takeaways

  • Meme marketing is any marketing strategy that uses memes to promote a brand.
  • To implement an effective meme marketing campaign, the business should define its brand, ensure the meme is relatable, take advantage of trends, keep it simple, and follow the rules.
  • Meme marketing has been used to great effect by companies such as Gucci, BarkBox, and Burger King.

What are steps to implement meme marketing?

How brands are using memes?

Platforms like Twitter and Reddit have become where memes are created, spreading very quickly. Today, creating memes can be an incredible superpower for brands. However, it can also turn against them. Thus, it’s critical to understand how a meme might fit into the overall brand strategy. Take the case of how Gucci created a set of memes around the hashtag #TFWGucci where it released a series of humorous and relatable memes in collaboration with famous artists.

Is meme good for brand?

Memes can make brands much more relatable with their audiences and, in a sense, humanize a brand, as it makes it appear funnier. Indeed, younger generations use memes as a primary way to communicate, and brands able to master the art of creating memes can generate buzz and, at the same time, create trust with new generations.

Other Types Of Marketing Tactics

Email Marketing

Email marketing leverages a set of tactics to build a stronger brand, drive traffic to your products, and build a solid funnel for converting leads into loyal customers. While email marketing isn’t new, it’s still one of the most effective marketing strategies to build a valuable business.

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing describes the process whereby an affiliate earns a commission for selling the products of another person or company. Here, the affiliate is simply an individual who is motivated to promote a particular product through incentivization. The business whose product is being promoted will gain in terms of sales and marketing from affiliates.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing involves the marketing of products or services that leverages the popularity, expertise, or reputation of an individual. Influencer marketing is often associated with those who have large social media followings, but popularity should not be confused with influence. Influence has the power to change consumer perceptions or get their audience to do something different.

Sustainable Marketing

Sustainable marketing describes how a business will invest in social and environmental initiatives as part of its marketing strategy. Also known as green marketing, it is often used to counteract public criticism around wastage, misleading advertising, and poor quality or unsafe products.

E-commerce Marketing

E-commerce marketing is part of the digital marketing landscape, and beyond, where e-commerce businesses can enhance their sales, distribution, and branding through targeted campaigns toward their desired audience, convert it into loyal customers which can potentially refer the brand to others. Usually, e-commerce businesses can kick off their digital marketing strategy by mastering a single channel then expand for a more integrated digital marketing strategy.

Buzz Marketing

Buzz marketing leverages the power of word-of-mouth advertising to create products or services with enough novelty that they go viral. In many cases, buzz marketing leverages on versatile content that can easily scale and be readapted to various contexts and fear of missing out (FOMO) to amplify the effect of word-of-mouth campaigns.

Shotgun Marketing

Shotgun Marketing
Shotgun marketing is a form of above-the-line (ATL) marketing, where popular mediums such as TV and radio are used to market to a mass audience. This technique of marketing targets as many consumers as possible. Also known as mass marketing, the technique attracts a large number of leads that, on average, might be of lower quality in nature.

Multichannel Marketing

Multichannel marketing executes a marketing strategy across multiple platforms to reach as many consumers as possible. Here, a platform may refer to product packaging, word-of-mouth advertising, mobile apps, email, websites, or promotional events, and all the other channels that can help amplify the brand to reach as many consumers as possible.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy designed to attract customers to a brand with content and experiences that they derive value from. Inbound marketing utilizes blogs, events, SEO, and social media to create brand awareness and attract targeted consumers. By attracting or “drawing in” a targeted audience, inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing which actively pushes a brand onto consumers who may have no interest in what is being offered.

Partnership Marketing

With partnership marketing, two or more companies team up to create marketing campaigns that help them grow organically with a mutual agreement, thus making it possible to reach shared business goals. Partnership marketing leverages time and resources of partners that help them expand their market.

Growth Marketing

Growth marketing is a process of rapid experimentation, which in a way has to be “scientific” by keeping in mind that it is used by startups to grow, quickly. Thus, the “scientific” here is not meant in the academic sense. Growth marketing is expected to unlock growth, quickly and with an often limited budget.

Guerrilla Marketing

Guerrilla marketing is an advertising strategy that seeks to utilize low-cost and sometimes unconventional tactics that are high impact. First coined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his 1984 book of the same title, guerrilla marketing works best on existing customers who are familiar with a brand or product and its particular characteristics.

Ambush Marketing

As the name suggests, ambush marketing raises awareness for brands at events in a covert and unexpected fashion. Ambush marketing takes many forms, one common element, the brand advertising their products or services has not paid for the right to do so. Thus, the business doing the ambushing attempts to capitalize on the efforts made by the business sponsoring the event.

Relationship Marketing

Relationship marketing involves businesses and their brands forming long-term relationships with customers. The focus of relationship marketing is to increase customer loyalty and engagement through high-quality products and services. It differs from short-term processes focused solely on customer acquisition and individual sales.

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