The fun thing about Memes

Monday is always considered to be the worst day of the week.  So today I woke up tired and low of energy after two weeks of break. I had a shower, made my bed and took the bus on gorgeous Bondi Beach (even more depressing).  After one hour and two buses, I arrived at UNSW and as I was about to complain about my Monday the Online and Mobile Media lecture number 10 started: INTERNET MEMES. I have to say, fun topic for a lecture.


Almost anyone who has had access to the Internet has seen a Meme. Whether they have understood it, ignored it or laughed at it is a matter of personality, cultural background, age, genre or language among others.

As common as they are, Internet memes have been a topic of interest for professionals across many disciplines including sociologists, media professional, anthropologists and marketers. Internet memes are part of today’s culture as they express human creativity and identity through humorous, shareable content

Part III of the book  The Social Media Reader,  is dedicated to Humor and one of the chapters that we had to read for the course was Patrick Davison’s article, “The language of Internet Memes” in which the author describes:

“An Internet meme is a piece of culture, typically a joke, which gains influence through online transmissions”

The word “Meme” was first discussed by British Biologist Richard Dawkins in the book The Selfish Gene published in 1976 where the author refers to a meme as the cultural equivalent of a biological gene that signifies transmission via mimetic imitation”.  

The word ‘meme’ comes from mimeme Ancient Greek word for ‘something imitated’ and that is in fact what Memes tend to achieve. They are content that needs to be created, produced, adapted and ultimately imitated, this specific characteristics are the ones that allow Internet memes to differentiate themselves from other viral content.

With the rapid development of the Internet, and specifically social media, sharing content has become not only easier but one of the most popular activities of Social Network Sites. The fact that hundreds, thousands and millions of people can easily share photos, videos and all sorts of content has encouraged regular individuals to become content creators.

An Internet meme can be very simple to produce. Basic memes require a good idea, a defined target audience, a visual or a photo and a text.


But Internet memes can also become more sophisticated, for instance audiovisual memes require better planning, editing skills and creativity. This was one of the examples that Tom (our tutor) showed us in class:

The fact is that today memes have become a language, people use them to give advice (as shown by Davison with the example of Advice dog’), to make fun of someone or something, in sign of protest about a particular situation they dislike and even for business purposes such as marketers do to sell products and services.

meme pool

Advertising like any other discipline has had to adapt to the rapid development of technology, Internet and most of all Social Media. Today, traditional forms of advertisement such as TV commercials have lost the power of reaching specific target audiences. In the digital era, people changed the TV for YouTube, they often download their favorite TV shows to watch them without being interrupted by ads and who ever does still own a TV can choose to fast forward through the commercial ads and right into the series, movie or show of their preference.

Internet Memes are a fairly new tool in the advertising industry and the brand Old Spice  would agree with me when I say a very powerful tool if put to good use. Old Spice developed one of the most successful advertising campaigns in the past decade starting with the commercial The man your man could smell like released in 2010. The Old Spice man, actor and NFL player, Isaiah Mustafa, became so popular that turned into a meme that is still available in meme creator websites and apps.


In 2011, Old Spice Guy won the G4’s contest: MEMEFIGHT against Demotivation Poster turning the Old Spice Campaign into an online and offline meme, an icon and most importantly a brand success.

Here is an example of an Old Spice meme.

So it seems Internet memes are not only funny, entertaining and the main reason why people are unable to study or work for long periods of time but they also can help make millions of dollars.

If you want to keep learning more about Internet Memes and are interested in understanding the relevance they have in advertising, marketing and public relations take some time to check out the following:

If you already know everything about Internet Memes and this post inspired you to make you own, here are some Websites that can help you:

Please leave a comment, I would love to know what you think of  Internet Memes.

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