The Delicate Art of Memejacking


A successful meme tends to accomplish two things that marketers love: it goes viral reaching lots of people and it does so in real-time. It should come as no surprise that many marketers try to cash in on memes. Some marketers try to create memes of their own- often with the intent of looking like it came from an organic source rather than a brand. Others try to create branded versions of memes that are already successful to try to cash in on a proven winning idea, this is called “memejacking.” Brands like McDonalds, Wonderful Pistachios, and Blizzard have had great success with this tactic. Memejacking can be a great way for a brand to get a quick win but it can also turn into a dismal failure very quickly.

How to Make Memejacking Work for You.

If everyone was jumping off a cliff…

Sometimes a meme becomes very big very quickly. Just as quickly, brands jack that meme. If a meme starts to blow up, don’t panic and rush into making something before thinking it through. Consider these two questions: What does this meme have to do with my brand and how will our intended audience react to seeing this kind of content? Don’t share a meme just because it’s popular; share it because it’s meaningful to your brand and audience.

But don’t wait too long…

Nowadays, the life-cycle of a meme is very, very short. Think about the “what people think I do” meme. It arrived on the scene, mutated a hundred thousand times, and then elicited a giant backlash all within a period of about a week. If you take too much time putting a meme together, you may miss your window of opportunity.

Don’t post it if it doesn’t work…

Most memes are humorous. If your memejacked content isn’t funny, don’t post it. How can you tell if your content is funny? Does it make you laugh? Does it make your co-workers laugh? If so, then you’re probably on the right track, though it may be helpful to share with a few people outside of your company before your content goes live.

Finally, memejacking is a tactic and not a strategy. While memejacking is a useful complement to your content strategy, it cannot be the centerpiece. It is still vitally important that you develop original, creative content your audience will love; you can’t just hop onto work someone else has done and hope for the best.