There’s an adrenaline rush that strikes a marketer when a new meme appears and the race is on to decide whether or not to hitch a ride on the passing parade.
I remember the first time I really understood the power of a meme to boost a brand. I was responsible for the World’s Greatest Shave advertising campaign and it was in full swing. Unexpectedly, Angela Jolie’s shapely right leg slid confidently through the split of her black dress on the Oscars red carpet… and within hours, Today host Karl Stefanovic had accepted a dare to wax his right leg and replicate Angelina’s striking look. The content went viral, taking the World’s Greatest Shave brand with it to an international audience.
Most recently and again during World’s Greatest Shave, the “Be like Bill” meme hit the interweb. Within 24 hours, people were fed up with their newsfeed being swamped by the beanie-wearing Bill, and were posting their own ‘anti’ Bill adaptations.
But the fit of this meme for the World’s Greatest Shave campaign was too good, and I bit the bullet and created “Be like Josh” who was shaving to keep his new girlfriend happy. Despite the negativity elsewhere, this adaptation was a success, achieving exceptional organic reach and engagement to become the top post of the campaign.
So to clone or groan? For me, the answer is that it depends on how well the meme fits your brand personality. Most memes are humorous so it could feel a little awkward if you try this with a serious brand. Fortunately, World’s Greatest Shave is a brand that is upbeat and quirky but this could have worked just as easily for any fun-based charity event. My verdict: if the synergy is strong and you get in early – go for it – you could just have the most powerful piece of content for the year on your hands.
Have you adapted a meme for your marketing? Have you seen memes that have or haven’t worked for brands?
Adapted from an article first published on my LinkedIn profile.
Image credit: Adaptation of the Be like Bill meme published on World’s Greatest Shave Facebook page.