An Internet meme is a concept that is spread from person to person via the Internet, according to Wikipedia’s definition. It usually comes under the description of a viral phenomenon or trending theme, and the memes doesn’t usually have a motive or cause behind the creation. It consists of spreading an image, text, hyperlink, video or hashtag, and it may stay the same or evolve over time, with no special meaning or intention.
Nevertheless, I am curious to whether these memes could have any value or advantages in a PR context? As PR professionals, we are usually thriving to raise awareness and get coverage in the media, so could memes be a golden ticket to achieve this by having a more effortless and fun approach to it?
To be able to do this, it is necessary to link the meme to the original message you want to get across, whether it is just to get attention to a brand or change people’s perception. For instance, I found this news-story from December last year about a little monkey at the Swedish brand Ikea, which I expect has resulted in some free publicity for the brand. If you don’t know the story, it was basically a monkey in a coat that turned up at an Ikea store in Toronto, Canada, and wandered around until it got caught and confiscated by the police. The media found the story very amusing, as it happened in the middle of the Christmas shopping last year.
However, images of the monkey in the coat quickly developed into Internet memes that circulated on online sites and networks. The memes featuring the monkey are still very present on these sites, even four months after the incident. These memes have also led back to Ikea mentions, as the monkey is branded “the Ikea monkey”. Therefore, I can’t help but wonder if this incident has something to do with Ikea’s PR team? This has never been confirmed, but it has certainly turned out as a beneficial story for the brand.
Starting a meme mainly requires creativity and innovative thinking, and should have some factors that people find amusing or recognisable. However, the more difficult task it how you can make it memorable and easily spread. In a PR perspective, your main goal should probably be to get it across as many people as possible, and then let it work its magic. It may not make much of a difference, but it can provide you with a fun and creatively challenging assignment.
How to do think memes fit in a PR context, can they be useful at all?