Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Memes, Pop Culture and Gen Z

Javeria Shoaib and Sidra Aidrus discuss the importance of addressing Gen Z in the language they relate to.
Published 17 Jan, 2024 02:06pm

In today’s digital age where the importance of communicating and connecting cannot be overstressed, advertisers have to find common ground with the younger generations. An effective way to do so is by embracing the world of memes and pop culture.

Memes, short pieces of humorous and relatable content, have become ubiquitous in online communication, particularly among the young. They serve as a shared language, connecting individuals through their common understanding of cultural references and experiences.

Pop culture, which encompasses popular music, movies, television shows and other forms of entertainment, plays a significant role in shaping the identity and interests of young people, and by engaging with these cultural trends, advertisers can establish a connection with them, foster meaningful conversations and build rapport.

Memes also provide a platform for self-expression and creativity. Creating and sharing memes allows individuals to express their unique perspectives and connect with others who share similar experiences. Their effectiveness lies in their ability to spot trending topics and understand cultural references. They demonstrate a brand’s willingness to share in the interest of their audiences and the ability to relate to their experiences.

Here are a few notable examples of brands that have successfully incorporated memes and pop culture references into their advertising strategies.

Pepsi Pakistan – Yeh Hai Pepsi: The campaign used popular Pakistani memes and catchphrases to connect with young people. It was a huge success and helped Pepsi maintain its position as the leading beverage brand in Pakistan.

Jazz Pakistan – Jazz Swag: This campaign used popular Pakistani hip-hop artists and influencers and succeeded in helping Jazz gain market share from its competitors.

Ufone – Ufone 4G: This campaign used famous Pakistani cricket players to connect with young people and helped Ufone increase brand awareness among its 4G subscriber base.

Checklist for using memes and pop culture

Stay up-to-date: Stay informed about popular culture references in Pakistan. This will allow you to create effective advertising campaigns that resonate with younger generations.

Be genuine: Do not try to force conversations or appear too trendy. You should be authentic and genuinely interested in connecting with young people in Pakistan.

Be respectful: Recognise that not everyone will share the same interests or understand the same references. Respect different perspectives and avoid making assumptions in your campaigns.

Use humour appropriately: Memes and pop culture can be great tools but should be used sparingly and appropriately. Avoid being either offensive or insensitive.

Encourage dialogue: Encourage dialogue with young people. Ask questions, share and encourage young people to express their opinions in response to your campaign.

The meme landscape has undergone significant transformations, reflecting changing consumption habits and cultural shifts. Earlier memes were often very simple, consisting of images with brief text captions. Since then, memes have evolved into more complex and nuanced forms, incorporating video, animation and intricate storylines.

Memes have also been democratised. Initially, they were created and shared by a small group of internet users, often with a niche following. Today, meme-creation tools have become widely accessible, empowering anyone to create and share them with a global audience. Furthermore, memes have moved from traditional desktop platforms to mobile devices, mainly social media apps. This shift has led to the proliferation of bite-sized, visually appealing memes easily consumed and shared on the go.

The future of memes lies in creating original and engaging content that resonates, while demonstrating a genuine understanding of their audiences’ interests. By embracing memes, advertisers can bridge the generation gap and connect with young people at a deeper level.

Javeria Shoaib is a social & community executive and Sidra Aidrus is Gen Z Manager, Brainchild.