Ad Technology

You Talking To Meme?

By: Lynnsey Rijos

If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’re aware of the term “meme”.  What many may not know is that “meme” was a term originally coined by biologist and author, Richard Dawkins in 1976. According to him, a meme is defined as “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture”. Loosely translated to be the evolution of ideas by taking the original idea in a different direction and giving it a different meaning. Considering the internet is a hub for mass sharing and viral content, internet memes ultimately became a subset of the original meme concept.

A meme can be a photo, video, word, phrase, song, GIF, etc. Some of the most memorable include “Grumpy Cat”, “Rickroll”, “But That’s None of My Business”, and one of the originals, “The Famous Dancing Baby”.

For the most part memes are meant to be humorous and exaggerated – A memorable and visual representation of sarcasm. Many are derived from relatable experiences (i.e. traffic, work, relationships, weather) or current events (i.e. sports, politics, celebrities). With current events, memes can go many ways. If a celebrity takes a tumble and it’s captured in a photo/video, more than likely it will be circulated on the internet with different descriptions or captions. On the other hand, memes can be used as a platform to relay a serious message or put a spotlight on a public injustice, with a lighthearted tone. Think of it as the digital version of editorial cartoons.

The amazing thing about memes is how they define today’s digital culture. If an image or video is posted online, within hours there can be 100 different variations of said image or video. All it really takes is for one person to apply his or her creativity to generate a meme, that will ultimately take on a life of its own. And due to the rapid growth, memes have caught the attention of brands. Understanding the online social behaviors of consumers many companies are exploring this trend by either leveraging an existing meme, or creating one (or series) from scratch.

One thing is for certain – memes are unavoidable. It’s impossible to sign on to Twitter, Instagram or Facebook without seeing at least one meme. On a global scale, memes are a social phenomenon that continue to gain momentum and popularity. It should be treated as another communication vehicle that shines a light on the public values and trends.