Memes are the bee’s knees. Both random and culturally relevant, they convey otherwise inexpressible feelings, and their reach is often boundless. But meme culture is difficult, if not impossible, to harness. It’s erratic and fast-moving—a wildfire, by all accounts, fanned by the inherently instantaneous nature of social media. The shelf life of a meme is always short, and web-goers are quick to shift focus to a newer, funnier viral phenomenon.
For this reason, many brands struggle to leverage the magic of memes in successful marketing campaigns. Nonetheless, last month luxury fashion line Gucci tried its hand at Internet culture by redesigning popular memes to advertise their new watch collection. The #TFWGucci [“That Feel When” Gucci] campaign, which featured bold adaptations of popular memes, highlighted a risky attempt at marketing with meme culture.
The campaign was relatively successful at creating engagement on social. Mentions of “Gucci” were slightly above average during the campaign, which accounted for 4% of all Gucci mentions between March 17th and March 21st. And although events like the Grammy’s and Milan Fashion Week each generated more mentions of the term “Gucci,” the meme campaign drove high social involvement in the form of comments and likes.
The memes collectively amassed almost 2 million likes and over 21,000 comments on Instagram. Each post accumulated an average of 67,000 likes and 768 comments. This campaign outperformed the one before it, which focused on behind-the-scenes looks at the making of the Gucci Spring 2017 line. Posts from that initiative garnered an average of 47,000 likes and 175 comments per post.
While the data suggests that the Gucci memes successfully generated online engagement, the sentiment surrounding the initiative was largely mixed. Critics agreed that Gucci made some cringe-worthy errors, including explaining their memes in the post descriptions and drudging up long-forgotten memes. Perhaps Gucci’s biggest mistake was targeting the wrong demographic.
What average millennial or Gen-Xer, the most common groups to use memes, is looking for an $800 watch? Were these just, as one Instagrammer noted, “rich ppl memes”? Was the campaign simply an awkward attempt to connect with younger customers via, as another user said, “forced, contrived, corporate memes”? A lot of people thought so.
Despite the negative backlash, a considerable number of social media goers were impressed with Gucci’s meme culture experiment. Some called it “honestly fire,” and felt that, from a marketing perspective, it was “pure genius.” These users appreciated the creative spin on established memes, and many found the interpretations to be “spot on” and humorous.
Gucci’s #TFWGucci campaign produced a relatively high level of online involvement. In this regard, it was a success. Yet the divided nature of that conversation speaks to the difficulty brands face when utilizing memes. Many found the memes imaginative and savvy, but just as many questioned and derided Gucci’s business-driven attempt to be hip. For more positive feedback, participating in current memes without advertising purposes may be the way to go.
ListenLogic specializes in tracking and analyzing social media conversations in order to uncover valuable consumer insights. To learn more about how social media analytics can help your team, head to our website.
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