Meme, according to the Wikipedia, is the term used when describing an idea, concept, expression and/or thought manifested in any type of virtual media, comic, video, texts, images and all kinds of multimedia and collective constructions popularised through Internet.
It is a tool used by many marketing professionals in their campaigns to position a brand or product. However, I will not get into this subject as it would give way to yet another blog entry, but I will focus on the wittiest side of memes.
When la Zarzuela had barely announced that the King needed to undergo surgery, whatsapp and twitter were already receiving touched-up pictures of the famous Surgery game featuring the set-up of King Juan Carlos’ face. There are many similar examples, and surely, we all have more than one photomontage of this kind in our smartphone’s image gallery: The face of the Barcelona football player vested as the new Pope under the caption “the Messi-ah” or Shakira’s photo holding a Milan eraser in her arms as if it was her baby. Jokes aside, this phenomenon peaks our curiosity. Just the other day I was discussing this kind of photomontages with one of my clients and we were both astounded by the immediacy, speed of transmission and capillarity they seem to enjoy.
The first question we asked ourselves is who would spend time creating these memes, and our answer was, undoubtedly someone with a lot of free time and a great deal of wit. Two circumstances that are not so rare these days, and we would also have to add a wide-ranging network of contacts in different areas that would help broadcasting their messages.
The second question is how to combine the different channels (whatsapp, twitter, forums, hyperlinks, image boards, facebook, e-mail) to multiply their reach. It is nonetheless surprising that the actual meme reaches you through different platforms or is sent to you by different contacts that are not related in any way and have different interests and hobbies. No doubt the simplicity and cost-free status of these channels largely contribute to a wide transmission, given that forwarding or retweeting is almost immediate, meaning that a user can receive the photo of the King three times within a couple of hours. Likewise, memes have a short but intense life-cycle; they slip into oblivion with the same breakneck speed as they spread.
The common denominator of these creations is that they parody cutting-edge news with a high media impact. Current national politics, the world of sports and celebrities are a source of inspiration for these creators who, with a great deal of wit, take advantage of that informative moment to launch their messages involving, logically, an implicit social satire.
Some of the keys to this phenomenon are: knowing how to detect the latest issues that become the talk of the town, using a language and a message that connects with the receiver and having a wide-ranging network of contacts for a large-scale transmission. A modus operandi those of us who have been working in the communications world for years are very familiar with. The wit to build an attractive story at the right time is what will guarantee our action’s success or failure. We need to put all our senses on the alert, turn ourselves into observers and stir up all the wit Mother Nature may have stowed upon us. And if She has not been generous with us, we will have no choice but to work and work until we grasp the perfect idea.