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Practice Management > Marketing and Communications > Social Media

GIF + meme = successful viral marketing?

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There are some things in life that make you stop and laugh so hard that your stomach hurts or you begin to “laugh-cry.” The silliness of the Internet has a lot of those things, at least for me, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can watch a very funny and memorable TV ad.

An ad so memorable, in fact, that you feel like you have to YouTube it and share it with the world.

That’s the beauty of effective marketing. Insurers have hit it out of the ballpark with some of their ads too and I’ve written about it before (Watch the most memorable insurance TV ads from yesteryear, the international ones and the best of the best.)

Now, if your company has a TV ad that is a hit, then your brand is golden. Have a TV ad that is a hit on social media, and that’s the recipe for going viral. Have a TV ad that integrates already-viral or famous components, like a meme, and… the results are yet to be seen.

That is exactly what this TV ad from Starbucks’ holiday campaign is trying to do (see video below). To date, and IMHO, no one had been able to use GIFs (a GIF is an image that repeats itself over and over in a span of a few seconds) and memes (a meme is a concept that spreads rapidly from person to person, usually through social media and other Internet forums like Reddit or 4chan, and it is distinguished by its creativity) on TV. This just goes to prove how social media is shaping everything… every… thing… And how big brands are coordinating their marketing campaigns with their social media strategy.

The Starbucks TV ad is a very simple form of marketing that is fairly unexplored and sure to resonate with millennials and social media junkies everywhere. And I can only imagine how that TV ad pitch meeting went:

Idea person: “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could take a meme that’s a GIF and turn it into a TV ad?”

Random person: “Yea, something like Carlton Banks from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air doing his little dance… YEAH, right! That’s crazy, idea person!”

Idea person: (A light bulb goes off somewhere in the creative mind) “That’s brilliant, random person! Carlton Banks doing his dance to Tom Jones’ ‘It’s not unusual’ over and over again, then letters!”

(What can I say, I have a direct line to Starbucks’ meeting notes.)

So, what do you think? Do you think the simplicity and brilliance of this ad will mean that more brands will start using memes and GIFs (or memes that are GIFs) for their TV and social media campaigns? Or do you think the ad is not that effective? Would you do something similar for your practice or organization, or, on a smaller scale, for YouTube or videos?

If you want to brush up on some of the best memes and have a good laugh, see some here. I leave you with one of my favorites, Grumpy Cat, below.

grumpy cat