Normally when we watch TV we change the channel or fast-forward during commercials. But there is one day a year where we not only look forward but also enjoy commercials. And that day is the Super Bowl. This years Super Bowl featured a commercial by the Coco-Cola owned company Vitamin Water. This commercial sparked controversy amongst viewers because either you understood the commercial and found it hilarious, or you had no idea what was going on.
That’s because this commercial featured several references to Internet “memes.” If you are asking what is a “meme” then you’re one of the people who didn’t understand the commercial.
A “meme” is usually a video, image, story, trend or joke that spreads throughout the internet via social networking sites and for lack of a better term, take on a life of their own.
Basically, a meme starts with one thing that has a basic meaning, whether it’s a picture, animation, or viral video. Then it is copied, altered in some fashion, and then shared. This process repeats creating multiple versions of the same “meme.”
There are hundreds of “memes” on the Internet. But advertisers are finding that some “memes” are more popular than others. You may have heard of “rick-rolling,” “honey badger,” or perhaps “keyboard cat.” If you have not heard of any of these, then you need to spend more time on the Internet.
“Memes” are now becoming the new spokes person for brands. Instead of celebrities, companies are hiring famous “memes” to be in their commercials or Internet ads. Using “memes” appeals to the Internet generation because they recognize and acknowledge them.
Vitamin Water’s Super Bowl commercial featured 7 currently popular Internet “memes” in their commercial. It featured the star of the sexy sax man video, a person planking, a person doing the worm, cats with limes on their heads, a parody of a video of someone getting hit by an antelope, prisoners in orange jumpsuits dancing another spoof of a video and a cameo appearance of Nyan cat.
Anyone who has spent time on the Internet recognized all of these characters and could identify which viral video they came from. Showing that your company is up to date with current Internet trends is another way of establishing brand image. Internet users can associate your product as “cool” with the hopes that eventually they purchase your product.
But “memes” can work in the opposite way. Companies are now using “memes” about them to their own advantages. For example, on the Internet there was a popular “meme” of the main character of Futurama, Fry, called “Not Sure If…” It consists of a picture of Fry with squinty eyes giving the allusion that he is thinking. This image has many difference captions such as “Not sure if I am in a bad mood or everyone is just annoying” and “Not sure if I actually have free time or I’m just forgetting something.”
Capitalizing on the success of “memes” Comedy Central, which airs new episodes of Futurama, started to run commercial spots with this “meme.” This time the caption states “Not sure if happiness is due to life getting better or just new Futurama.”
“Memes” are gaining in popularity by the second. “Memes” can be a useful tool to in marketing because it shows that you understand the Internet, the Internet generation, and their humor. As previously mentioned, “memes” can be helpful in establishing a unique brand image which will hopefully increase your business.