Brownstone Blog

Thanks for the Memeory or – Did We Really Meme That?

Meme is a term originally coined by Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene, to indicate “an idea, behaviour or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” Memes are the super-viruses of ideas that catch hold quickly and infect often large groups of people. An extreme example of radical meme infection is of course last year’s riots where there were cases of previously law-abiding citizens actually turning themselves in to the police with the explanation: ‘I’ve never stolen anything before – I just don’t know what came over me.’ Cases like this are thankfully rare and as we saw with the riots, relatively short-lived occurrences.

Internet memes are those propagated via the web and can take the form of emails which go viral, videos, links and images. If you’ve ever been Rickrolled – that’s a meme at work. Recent memes include Angelina Jolie’s leg from her red carpet Oscar appearance to those ‘What I Really Do’ posters (presently the latest sharing fad) ,

Ridley Scott’s viral TED talk 2023 video for his ‘not an Alien prequel’ Alien prequel film Prometheus.

Internet memes can often be short-lived in that they go viral fast and then disappear just as quickly to be replaced by the next meme.

Successful advertising campaigns can become memes in themselves. The danger is of course that the meme actually becomes the idea of the campaign and not the service or product it was designed to promote. If you can think of a brilliant advertising campaign – whether on the internet or elsewhere, but cannot remember what it was selling, then that campaign has become a meme. The challenge for digital advertisers is of course to design campaigns that do both.

‘If the meme is a link to a page on your website, then every time the link is forwarded or shared, that potentially increases your customer base as well as brand recognition,’ Dave Jabbie explains. ‘Social media has played a huge role in the proliferation of memes. Before Facebook and Twitter became memes in themselves, people used to have to forward links and images via email. Now they Tweet them and post them to their walls, increasing their ability to go viral via social networks very fast. If you’re talking memes then social networking plays a huge role in creating the meme.’

‘If you don’t believe me then consider the fact that The Selfish Gene was first published in 1976. The term ‘meme’ had been out there all that time but took 30 years to go viral and become a meme. In other words, we had to have the rise of the internet and social networking for this to happen,’ says Jabbie.

Of course, we couldn’t write about Memes without including a few of our favorites right now.  We’d like to think there’s a lot more to what we really do but we’re also willing to have a laugh at our own expense. Talk to us about turning your message into a meme. We promise to make it a meaningful experience.


One response to “Thanks for the Memeory or – Did We Really Meme That?

  1. Pingback: And now for something a little different… « ConversationalWordsmith

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