Memes and Marketing – Yes or No?


A meme is defined in Google as: 

noun: meme; plural noun: memes


  • an element of a culture or system of behaviour passed from one individual to another by imitation or other non-genetic means.
  • an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.


Memes are common on social media platforms. They can be funny, entertaining, and informative, and they are easy to consume. However, when using memes as a marketing tool, there is more to consider.

Meme-jacking, when marketers hijack popular memes to market their products, has become a way for many brands to improve their brand awareness, image or sociopolitical alignment. It does not always work.

How Are Brands Using Memes for Marketing?

The average Internet user spends an hour and a half per day on social media. Memes and GIFS have become the social media language used to communicate new ideas and attitudes.

Popular meme templates, such as Grumpy Cat, Distracted Boyfriend and Exit 12 give people online a place to laugh, debate and manipulate. Often the most popular and successful memes begin life on Reddit. From amusing family snaps to advertising that is changed to make a statement, memes can do so much with so little.

University professors and marketing experts have been trying to understand why and how for many years now, but the thing that you really need to know is that a meme becomes public property. If you want to use a meme in your marketing, make sure you understand that it can and, if successful, will be used in ways that you like and others that you might hate.


Memes are highly visual, making them a great tool to create social media fodder.

The best part is you can simply take a concept that is already gaining traction and piggyback on its popularity. With memes, there is no such thing as plagiarism.

Creating memes gets simpler with image editor and animation maker tools such as PixTeller. This design tool allows you to create animated GIFs, quote pictures, and video stories with easy-to-use templates.

You can capitalize on a trending meme and customize it with your branded content to engage your target consumers. Creating a meme is fast and effective.

Brands that have been marketing with memes include:

  1. Gucci

Gucci is a luxury fashion brand that embodies sophistication and grace. However, in 2017 the #TFWGucci campaign showed a different side to a brand that wanted to remain relevant and appeal to a younger, more relaxed audience.

#TFWGucci, which is short for “That Feeling When Gucci,” was a campaign designed to promote their new line of watches.

Image via Instagram

  1. BarkBox

New York-based subscription service, BarkBox, has more than 600,000 monthly subscribers for their dog products and services. Their target audience is obviously dog owners and dog lovers.

During the 2020 pandemic, they played along with the many reactions people and their dogs were having to be on lockdown together, and having to maintain social distancing standards while in public spaces.

Image via Instagram

BarkBox leveraged dog memes to engage their audience. Instead of promoting their products, they use memes to bring the whole community of pet lovers together.

Because of the relatability of their memes, their followers often tag their friends and comment on the posts.

Tips for Marketing with Memes

  1. Know Your Audience – play up to your demographic
  2. Make Popular Memes Yours – be original and different
  3. Know What’s Trending – follow the news and current affairs to stay ahead


Marketing with memes can be a great way to promote your brand without ‘advertising’. They’re relatable, cheap to produce, and can increase your brand visibility and engagement.

However, you can get it very wrong. Some memes are tone-deaf, and if you use a meme that has been determined as such without understanding that, you could also find yourself in a difficult position.

Be sure to research any content you intend to use, even if it’s a quick meme, take the 20 minutes before you post to investigate if the meme has been poorly received or if you need to create something original and forget the Distracted Boyfriend image even exists.


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