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Memes speak louder than words

We’ve all come to appreciate the power of social media, and no longer underestimate its influence when it comes to consumer opinions and purchasing.


However when brands miss the mark, social media is always there, ready and waiting to shine a spotlight on any mistakes. This doesn’t just come down to spelling and grammar, using content that doesn’t align with your brand identity is also something that often gets picked up on. Therefore it’s important to be in tune with what’s happening in the world of your audience at all times, regardless of the business objectives.


Here are three times social media owned marketing and some of its mistakes from the last few weeks: 


1.       Wendy’s ‘beef’ with McDonald’s

I’m a great supporter of fun social media activity by brands. It gives them personality, making it more appealing for consumers to engage with them. Take Wendy’s ‘beef’ with McDonald’s that made headlines worldwide for its quick and witty response.


McDonald’s used Twitter to announce that by mid-2018, all of its Quarter Pounder burgers will be cooked with fresh beef in the majority of its restaurants. Wendy’s, a popular fast food chain in the US, used this as an opportunity to show its fun side, and ask what most of us were probably thinking. Not only did this gain thousands of retweets, it also made national headlines, gaining coverage for Wendy’s off the back of it.

Although this garnered a round of applause for Wendy’s social media team, it’s important not to forget that anyone in the world of social media can be just as quick to point out anything you do wrong. And remember, a negative opinion is always louder than a positive one.


1.       The Gucci meme


Memes are images intended to be funny through relatable captions, the majority of these are sent between 20-something millennials. Recently however, Gucci, a luxury fashion brand, launched its #tfwgucci campaign, a series of fashion-focused memes that poked fun at the social media culture. Although this is a blatent attempt by Gucci to tap into a younger audience, for me it just didn’t work.  Gucci is a luxury brand and this is a try hard attempt at being something it’s not.

Some people love it and some hate it, but the people that hated it seemed to have a louder voice.




Social media is a natural phenomenon that brings people together through their shared sense of humour, culture, hobbies and aspirations, and memes are proven to work well in achieving this. But as a luxury brand trying to cash in on this, it takes away from the light-hearted nature of sharable content, and is a step away from the premium origins of the brand.


1.       The Kendall Jenner Pepsi Advert

If you don’t know about the Pepsi advert released this week, where have you been? Less than 24 hours after going live, the advert has already been pulled due to its insensitive nature, leaving the brand labelled as tone deaf to today’s political climate. However, it wasn’t advertising experts that triggered this, it was social media that gave people’s reactions a platform leading it to be covered worldwide. 




The advert didn’t need people to sign a petition, or an investigation by the ASA, as the backlash brought it down almost immediately.




This reaction is my personal favourite:



So what should brands take away from this?

That you can never be too aware or too prepared, and that you can’t control the opinions of others.

The need to always carefully consider your contents, platform and format. For example, is Snapchat or Insta-stories right for your brand and your target audience?

Is it potentially risky?


Consider all of this, but then remember you can never be too prepared as the thoughts of the public will always find you. Because memes speak louder than words.




Tagged with: Product Placement, Public Relations, Social Media

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