Lolcats & Memetic Marketing – Canyourbrandhascheezburger?

That’s right, ‘Memetic Marketing’. You heard it here first!

Part of my responsibility at Sage is to research potential new marketing opportunities and to assess their potential for our Accountants’ team. So of course, when I first encountered the phrase, my interest was piqued.

Memetic Marketing

Memetic Marketing sounds like something from a Mad Men episode; something which would have rolled out of an Ad agency in the 60’s and subsequently have slipped behind the cupboard to gather dust.

Yet this is a new piece of terminology, the retro vibe struck something of a chord and challenged me to dig a little deeper. My understanding of Memes came from reading ‘The Selfish Gene’ by Richard Dawkins, a great read, whatever your religious bent, where he describes the dissemination of ideas across a culture through mimicry in word, writing or action. A very succinct way to describe how early human cultures spread ideas and technology.

Then, after the passing of a considerable period of time and probably more than a few memes came the internet.

Internet Memes

On paper it is the world’s largest repository of information, an archive of indescribable vastness which hosts an immeasurable volume of data and content. In a way it is one of man’s greatest creations, a library of every achievement, scientific discovery and historical precedent since the dawn of mankind.

Yet for anyone who has spent any time perusing the internet, it is remarkable how the development of internet memes has impacted our culture and behaviours online. There are countless examples of internet memes which have flourished and are now virtually unavoidable on social media networks.

Run a google image search on ‘all your base’ and you’ll get a flavour of what I mean, it doesn’t take a lot for an internet meme to become something of a behemoth!

For those that aren’t familiar, here’s an example I knocked up of another popular internet meme, lolcats:

Blog - Lolcat

Upon further reading I came to understand that Memetic Marketing is a new definition for the adoption of internet memes, through viral and guerrilla marketing techniques to drive awareness of a brand.

Viral campaigns?

Personally I’m quite sceptical of this as an approach, for any marketer that has tried to run a viral campaign, you know that getting the initial momentum for the campaign is a virtually unassailable mountain to climb. Once you achieve that inertia, the campaign will roll along quite nicely of its own accord, but I would image that less than one in a hundred attempts to launch a Viral ever achieve anything more than lip service.

There have been some very notable successes, in particular Cadbury made a massive impact with their Gorilla youtube campaign, a short clip of a silverback gorilla drumming to ‘In the Air Tonight’ by Phil Collins.

Another fantastic example was the ‘Will It Blend’ clips, produced for a very low budget by blending company Blendtec. Originally they produced short clips to show the power of their blender by crushing ice and other difficult foodstuffs

In summary, I love internet memes, they enrich my online experience, but I don’t plan on trying to actively include them in our marketing plans just yet! I’m interested to know what other marketers think about the potential of using memes to promote your brand? I think as with any channel it has to be appropriate to your product, so I wouldn’t expect any Sage branded ROFLCOPTERs anytime soon, but for the right brand they could prove a real success.

Alex Walker, Sage Accountants’ Team @alexatsage