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

How live event reporting can boost your content strategy

Adam Fisher 20th July 2018 — 5 mins read
S

o let’s take it back to the beginning. Live event reporting is essentially what journalists do every day, but now are doing for a specific organisation and event rather than for a media outlet.

It involves them being paid by the client (typically a brand) to cover an event such as a conference, trade show, charity fundraising initiative or new product launch and providing live updates, interviews, social media content and videos.

Let’s say you are an insurance company and you sponsor a sporting event such as a triathlon. That event will demand promotion, regular updates and will attract competitors and spectators all with stories to tell, providing a potentially rich vein of human interest content.

You may have already seen live event reporting in action through Apple and Tesla product launches, but more brands are starting to embrace it.

Here is why we not only think it should be added to your content marketing strategy but also how it will bring added value to your next event.

 

Build anticipation

Carefully crafted internal messages and social media posts can have a big impact on creating interest and excitement in your event before it kicks off.

A designated live event reporting team which is entirely focused on the event can help to enthuse not only those who are attending but also those who cannot make the event in person.

The posts can promote speakers, the topics which will be discussed, and offer a behind-the-scenes look as final preparations are made.

It may sound odd, but there are a lot of football clubs who do this well, building anticipation among their fans who cannot attend the match by sharing photos of players and coaches arriving at the ground, the warm-up routine and the starting team announcement for example.

A key point here is to have a single specific hashtag for your event if you are going to use social media channels.

This will make it easier for people to find what you are sharing and join in the conversation.

 

Wider audience

For some organisations, no matter how hard they try or want it to happen, it can simply be logistically impossible to get everyone together in the same place at the same time.

And it can be hard to capture the attention of those unable to attend.

But live reporting, with blogging and video coverage can give those unable to make it a sense of what is unfolding as it happens, creating a level of engagement that a traditional post-event report could not achieve.

 

Extending the buzz

For many events it can be important for the reach to extend beyond the four walls of the conference room or the event location.

It may be of interest to stakeholders, customers and potential customers.

Using social media channels to tell other users you are reporting live from an event can create a real online buzz and help amplify reach.

The word ‘live’ is important in these types of social media posts. It adds urgency and importance to messages and can help cut through the noise.

 

More than just a one-day event

There is a misconception that live reporting stops being useful once the event comes to an end.

But in our experience, this couldn’t be more wrong.

The interviews and footage gathered at the event can provide a rich pool of content which can be used throughout the coming weeks and months for both internal and external audiences.

For example, interviews can be used for the basis of blogs, or they can be turned into short video clips which can be used on social media channels.

 

Stand-out

Live reporting an event is something which can really make an organisation stand-out and highlight it as a brand with industry expertise.

It is still a relatively new concept, which means that using it can help organisations differentiate themselves from their competitors and show their ingenuity.

It could also lead to further speaker opportunities for your spokespeople, potentially helping the business to grow.

 

Better feedback

Not only does live reporting of your event increase its longevity, but it also increases the opportunity for constructive feedback.

The repurposed content you gain from the event can be used to elicit ideas on what went well and what people would like to see changed for the event.

Not only could this generate some good suggestions, but it also helps position the organisation as one which is willing to listen and embrace opinions which may help it improve.

 

Why use journalists for live reporting?

Live reporting can be challenging and exhausting.

We believe journalists are best placed to meet the demands of this format.

They will be able to carry out independent and newsworthy interviews with senior leaders, speakers and audience members.

They are skilled at gathering and filtering huge quantities of information and quickly getting to the heart of a story and are used to producing content quickly.

And they can self-edit and have the ability to adapt and reuse content for different channels – a crucial skill in maximising the impact and life of live event reporting content.

If we think back to the insurance company sponsoring a sporting event, which we mentioned at the start, could their comms team, which is likely to be stretched with managing the media around the event, capture all that potentially great content? Or would a team of experienced journalists, parachuted in to focus purely on that event, be better placed?

 

Get in touch to find out how our live event reporting team can add value to your next event.

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 a whitepaper.

Mark Mars
3rd October 2017 - 5 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.