Whilst sat on an EasyJet flight to Sardinia last week I was faced with the rather egregious advertisement on the back of the seat in front of me:

I can assure you, as someone who just spent the past hour crammed into a seat with just 29 inches of leg space, I was not “livin’ my best life”. Nor do I need an advert to validate my choice of mobile phone provider. 

Brands think this type of marketing is clever, funny, and most importantly ‘on trend’ with pop culture. They hope, by using memes, they can make their ads (and themselves) more relatable, relevant, engaging and effective. Or perhaps these brands think they are being hyper ironic and are in fact ‘in on the joke’ – a sort of “Wink, wink, look at us using these silly phrases to try and sell you something, aren’t we just hilarious?” 

No. No you’re not Bill. You’re 46 and using language you hear your 15-year-old daughter use because you think it means you’re down with the kids. Down with the Gen Zers. And down with those ever so elusive millennials that you desperately want to sell to. 

But here’s the truth: they hate you, Bill. And they hate your advertising more, because it’s cringeworthy and lame. Stop jumping on the backs of memes!

This isn’t the first time an ad campaign has sought to capitalise on a popular culture trend. There have been countless instances of brands using body positivity as part of their marketing campaigns such as Sainsbury’s clothing brand Tu’s ‘Be You’ campaign which encouraged its customers to love themselves…

Aren’t adverts meant to subtly sell you an idea rather than try to jam one down your throat like a three-for-99p doughnut places at eye level next to the checkout? What has happened to creativity in advertising? Where have the drum-playing gorillas gone? They might not have had anything to do with the products, but at least they were memorable. Remember the Tango advert? Or the ‘belly’s gonna get ya’ one? Neither were particularly PC, but they got people talking. 

These types of ‘meme’ marketing campaigns will most certainly backfire and elicit no more than an eye roll or an exasperated sigh. The above adverts are unoriginal, forgettable, and rather than speak to their target audience, simply put them off. Your advert is not a meme, but if you keep up with this kind of marketing, your company might be.


Nancy Elgadi

By Nancy Elgadi - Digital Director

5 September 2019


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