Emily Stonham
2nd January 2019 - 7 mins read
W

e’re a strange bunch, and it’s because of this that brands have found it so hard to market to us. How can you expect to see results from a lovingly crafted, artistic marketing campaign on TV when the height of comedy for my age group is someone doing surgery on a grape?

There’s been plenty of examples over the years of brands trying to capitalise on our strange humour, ranging from the mildly successful to the downright embarrassing. Brands using memes in marketing seems to be one of the main offenders here. If you’re not familiar with memes, Google defines them as ‘an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.’

My generation in particular (Gen Z, born from 1995 onwards) is often berated by the media for being glued to our phones. Whilst I disagree with this being true for every teenager, stereotypically it can be true for quite a few of us.

A lot of us adore social content, and would rather be on Netflix or YouTube than traditional TV channels. Memes in particular form a large part of the content of many social media platforms for my generation now, specifically Instagram, Reddit and Tumblr. Despite all this, a lot of brands seem to be missing the mark with their attempts at humorous marketing.

Here’s three of my favourite examples of corporate meme usage - good and bad - with some insights on how to use memes and modern humour to your brand’s advantage online. 

 

Denny’s Twitter Account

The American diner Denny’s has found a unique niche on Twitter. Namely, it’s one of the weirdest corporate accounts out there - and people love it. In 2013, the brand’s social media was taken over by the EP+Co agency. They had one simple aim, which was to make the brand’s social media activity not sound like a corporate account.

Fast forward to 2018, the brand is infamous for its bizarre and occasionally disturbing breakfast-themed content on a number of platforms. They’re experts at hijacking popular trends and current news and popular culture events on Twitter, such as the removal of the iPhone headphone jack.

 

 

Such is Denny’s success that they have international followers from places that don’t even have one of these restaurants. Its Twitter account even helped kickstart a new meme format a while back, by hiding a message in a pancake.

 

 

Gucci Memes

Here’s a surprising one. Out of all the brands to use memes in marketing, would you expect a luxury, high-end retailer to get involved? Not many people did, which is why these were received with gleeful concern.

Gucci created #TFWGucci (That Feeling When Gucci) to promote its new line of watches. They commissioned a number of pieces of artwork, and then had popular meme creators make content with them. The results were fairly mixed.

 

  

 

Some were pretty funny and went down well online, but others just seemed a bit odd and out of touch. Fashionista made some pretty good points in this article, mentioning how it’s strange for a large, established brand like Gucci to be making memes, as the origin of niche memes involved talking about topics like mental health - which were too taboo to talk about in mainstream media.

 

 

Overall, it was interesting but seemed a little bit out of character for such a high-status brand. To really appeal to the meme community, Gucci should have probably had a bit more existential dread

 

Wendy’s Memer Advert

This one is a little older, but it still makes my soul hurt.

When it first came out, it had people debating whether this was deliberately meant to be so terrible, in order to create hype online.

Anyone who’s been vaguely aware of memes for the last few years or so will see the glaring issues with this advert.

It’s just cringey. Plain and simple. There’s no punchline, there’s not even really an element of self-awareness – which is one of the elements that memes are normally recognised for.

This meme format with the bold white text and ‘like a boss’ arguably hasn’t been funny for a good ten years or so. It’s completely out of date, which defeats the objective of using memes (they’re topical and based heavily around online trends).  

Regardless of whether this was genuine, self-aware or an attempt at possibly creating nostalgia for meme fans, I don’t think it worked very well. It left many online viewers feeling irritated and enraged by how out of touch it was.

If the point of the advert was to get people talking about the brand (and how out of date it was), then fair play. But if the point was to make sales, I don’t think this was the best strategy as many seemed more annoyed with the brand than engaged with it.

There’s even a Reddit thread dedicated to this sort of mishap, called r/CorporateFacepalm. It’s worth checking out before you try any sort of memes out yourself – or if you just want a laugh.

There’s plenty more examples of corporate memes dotted all over the internet - some mildly funny, others just simply embarrassing.

In all seriousness though, creating memes can be a dangerous game to play when using them for advertising or marketing a brand. For example, memes can have hidden meanings or symbolisms that will be understood by people active on particular parts of social media, but skate right over the heads of corporate teams.

Pepe the frog, for example, was a very popular meme a while back.

 

 

Pepe was widely used by the media and political campaigns until he was found to have associations with the alt-right. Pepe never originally had racist associations, but it was hijacked by certain groups of people to suit their own causes.  

By the time Pepe was used in the 2016 United States presidential election campaign, he had already been branded a hate symbol. He’s now in the Anti-Defamation League’s guide to hate symbols, much to the amusement of some parts of the internet.

This happens fairly frequently, and unless you have someone working for you who spends the majority of their time looking at memes, you might accidentally post something that has horrible hidden messages associated with it. It’s a big risk to take, especially for large or well-established brands.

Another negative to using memes is how quickly they age. As I was researching for this blog, I came across a bunch of meme adverts from around 2012-2015. This article from Digiday has some good examples of what I mean- specifically, the Virgin Media one. My first reaction was that they were terrible, simply because of how outdated they automatically seemed to me.

Thinking about it, it’s quite likely that these campaigns would have been funny when the memes were on trend. They fit the meme well, and they’re not too awkward. But they seem so bad to us now because of how old the format is.

Meme trends change so quickly and so do reactions to them. In the time that it’s taken me to write this blog and get it through the editing/approval process, the ‘doing surgery on a grape’ meme I referenced in the opening paragraphs has already gone out of date and is now considered to not be funny.

If your brand is modern and has a fairly young audience, it can be a highly effective marketing strategy to use memes and edgy jokes in your content. If not, your audience may be confused by your attempt at being trendy. Bear in mind your target market, especially if you’re attempting dark humour with your campaigns.

And steer clear of using memes unless you’re absolutely certain that your audience will enjoy them, and that you understand the meme properly. It’s not worth the effort if your campaign is just going to end up being mocked on a Reddit thread.

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is social media content or an eBook.

Marketing

7 reasons your organisation should produce an eBook

Adam Fisher 10th December 2018 — 4 mins read
E

lectronic books, or eBooks as they are more commonly known, occupy the middle ground of the content world, between the shorter and more regularly produced blogs and the more formal, often academic approach, taken in whitepapers.

It is a format which has enjoyed something of a boom in recent years and it looks set for further success.

What exactly is an eBook?

When we talk about an eBook we are not talking about the publications you read through a device like a Kindle.

The eBooks we refer to are produced by businesses and typically come in PDF format.

They enable brands to explore a topic in deeper detail – often aimed at solving a problem customers may be experiencing - but through an easy-to-read style.

And producing them has many benefits.

So without further ado, here are seven reasons why your organisation should produce an eBook.

 

Cover a topic in more detail

If you are already regularly blogging, you are probably tackling topics in somewhere between 500 to 1,500 words.

An eBook enables you to tackle topics in much more depth, usually starting at around 5,000 words or around 20 pages.

This gives plenty of scope to educate, entertain and engage readers and potential customers.

Longer form content can appear daunting to a reader – many would be put off by a 5,000 word blog for example.

But putting it in the format of a well-designed eBook, which is supported by eye-catching design, will make them more likely to download it and read when they have time.

Not only that, but an information-driven, educational eBook could become a resource they refer to again and again.

This creates brand loyalty, enhance the reputation of the band and the connection the customer has with it and ultimately helps to drive revenue.  

 

Showcase expertise

Producing an eBook can help position your organisation as a thought leader in its industry and showcase its expertise.

Tackling important issues which matter to your customers in detail not only reveals a deeper level of understanding but will also encourage prospects to view your organisation as a trusted source of information and as a problem solver.

This in turn helps organisations cultivate the credibility customers look for.

 

Generate revenue

eBooks are a great way to generate new leads that could lead to new sales.

In return for your carefully crafted insight, potential customers typically need to provide their email address for the download link.

In some cases they may also be required to provide other details such as job role and phone number.

That means an organisation now have valuable information about someone who has expressed an interest in your content.

They are also a great tool for sales teams to use to generate interest and new business.

 

Reusable content

One of the great benefits of an eBook is that it provides a lot of content which can be repurposed and recycled in blogs.

I have written a few eBooks for our sister company Media First and I have been able to take parts from each one, whether it is a chapter, section or even just a paragraph, and turn that into a blog at later date.

For example, one I wrote on the importance of preparing for a media crisis has led to blogs on holding statements, risk register, the importance of communicating internally and identifying the right spokesperson.

Additionally, they also provide plenty of reusable content for social media teams.

 

Rise above the competition

Not only do eBooks provide another channel to promote your organisation, but they are also something many of your rivals may not be using.

There are plenty of blogs out there, for example, but how many companies in your sector go beyond that?

So, not only do they help to ensure your brand stands out, but they could also help you tap into a wider audience.

 

Retains its value

An eBook is an item of content which retains its value.

Unless it is on a particularly time sensitive subject, it can stay on your website indefinitely generating leads and interest.

You can also keep referring back to it in blogs to attract new readers and post about it on social media.

At the very worst you may just need to update it occasionally.

 

You may already be half-way there

If you are already regularly producing content like blogs then you may already be well on your way to producing an eBook.

Your existing content could form the basis of your eBook and may just need some repositioning, a slightly different angle, more detail and some good design.

 

In summary, eBooks are premium content which should form part of your content marketing strategy.  If they don’t, your customers may just find the information they are looking for through a rival organisation’s eBook.

At Thirty Seven, we offer content and design services to ensure your campaigns reach the right audiences at the right times. Our journalist led approach ensures your content is interesting, engaging and informative so you gain brand awareness and engagement whether it is social media content or an eBook.

Aimee Hudson
2nd October 2017 - 8 mins read

Every company wants to be an authority in their sector - those that engage the media usually are

Media First designs and delivers bespoke media and communications courses that use current working journalists, along with PR and communications professionals, to help you get the most from your communications plan.