Definition, Origin and the ways to Marketing through Memes

Since their inception, memes have become a mainstay on the internet. Unless you have been living under a rock, you should be familiar with internet memes. Not a day goes by when you are scrolling down twitter, Facebook or Instagram and not come across a funny meme. So today we look at the unlikely origin of memes and how they have evolved over time.

Definition of a Meme

Memes come in so many different shapes and sizes that it is hard to define them, but here is a brief idea of what a meme is.

1. In most cases, a meme is an image with a short striking text. This often refers to events from all over the world, series, films or youth language.

2. A meme is in many cases an inside joke, in which an image of a famous person, is combined with a descriptive text. They spread very quickly on the internet because they can be so diverse and fit into a wide variety of situations.

3. There are hardly any limits to your imagination. There are many different images of individuals, film or series characters, celebrities and much more that can be combined with any kind of pun. There are even programs out there that you can use to create your own memes.

4. Occasionally, memes get by without any text at all. Then, for example, an original image is edited and details are removed or added so that the statement changes.

The Origin of Memes

The origin of the word meme and the first creation are far apart in terms of time and content.

1. The word “meme” originally comes from the Greek word “mimema” and means “imitated”. The term was first used in 1976 by the biologist Richard Dawkins, but in a completely different context. He used it to describe genes that humans pass on to one another through imitation.

2. A meme in the modern understanding is also something imitated, namely an existing image or an existing text is imitated and given its own note.

3. Probably the first meme was “Leave Britney Alone”. After an appearance by Britney Spears, she had to accept a lot of negative criticism. An American Youtuber named Chris Crocker then posted a video in which he cried and shouted that people should leave Britney alone.

4. In response, many Internet users parodied this video, for example using it to make pictures with the text “Leave Britney Alone” and the like. This quickly caught on for other videos or characters, for example “Nyan Cat”, ” Grumpy Cat ” or “Gangnam Style”.

5. After the success of the pictures on the Internet due to their simplicity and ease of understanding, they were ultimately given their current name – memes.

6. Nowadays anything can be a meme, even the work you do. For example, graphic design is my passion. To outsiders it may not look much like a meme but in the graphic industry it is quite famous.

Marketing through Memes

Nowadays if something is famous, you can probably make money off of it. That is exactly the case with internet memes. Memes are generally funny and relatable and like everything else on the internet people have found ways to make money through memes.

1. One of the easiest ways is to use them as ads. Mega corporations like Apple and McDonalds have used memes as part of their advertisement and that is just the tip of the spear.

2. Sometimes companies don’t even need to make an effort. Memes just pop out on their own. That was the case for Netflix, when a meme was created from one of its movies Birdbox. People who hadn’t seen the movie saw it thanks to the meme and Netflix’s traffic increased.

3. Other times instead of using old memes, companies create their own memes. That was the case with the Fiji water girl. Fiji Water used a model to photobomb celebrities attending the 2019 Golden Globes and it went viral, creating a huge amount of advertisement for the company.

4. Memes can sometimes take a dark turn. Unless you are living under a rock, you should be aware of “Cash me outside girl”. A single phrase led to advertisement and record deals for Danielle Bregoli aka Bhad Bhabie. But it also led to rehab and legal issues that came with it and many people have labelled it unethical to use young people as props to make money like this.