Namah Chawla
Marketing

Meme experts: the new specialist agencies on the block

Companies like Youngun and WLDD are embarking on a journey to create their niche while making meme marketing mainstream.

You may have come across that viral call between Vanshika and her friend on social media. It wasn’t a usual ad and barely came across as a brand post. The conversation seemed extremely authentic, keeping the viewer engrossed till the end.

Be it Vanshika’s breakup call or the Zomato-Blinkit viral collaboration, meme marketing has been delivering some amazing results for both brands and marketers lately. While brands like Zomato have in-house creative teams that are responsible for regularly churning out such content, other brands and agencies take the help of specialised agencies for the same.

afaqs! takes you behind the scenes of how brand memes are created through the journey of two agencies who are making meme marketing mainstream so that brands, across categories, can benefit from it. 

Influencer marketing is passé

Youngun, a three-year ‘young’ agency founded by Saksham Jadon, is the mind behind many recent viral campaigns, including CRED’s classified ads and Myntra’s Vanshika. It has also worked with brands like Netflix, PepsiCo, Cult.fit, Swiggy and Spotify.

Having worked in the influencer marketing industry before launching Youngun, Jadon feels that brands are able to utilise influencers in a limited capacity.

“Everything is paid and, hence, has become inauthentic, as far as influencer marketing is concerned. Additionally, influencer marketing content may not ensure virality as, to some extent, the numbers get limited to the influencers’ following,” Jadon says, while comparing meme marketing with influencer-led marketing.

Memes came into existence when Facebook was launched. Its popularity has only increased over the years. Memes are not just used to joke about trivial matters, but to stay up to date and know what is happening around.

Jadon admits that memes were not new for brands when his company was launched. The challenge was to create memes for brands in a way that the content comes across as authentic, and not simply an ad.

The first movers

Three college friends Arihant Jain, Vivekanand Kilari and Jaidev Keshti launched a meme marketing company Wubba Lubba Dub Dub (WLDD) in 2018. Till date, WLDD has worked with over 120 brands, created 1,050-plus campaigns and has a 10,000-plus-strong creator community.

“When we started out, there was no other meme marketing company,” informs Jain, who is also the CEO of WLDD.

WLDD’s co-founders moved to Bengaluru for their internships. While contemplating what to do in future, they realised that they were either sharing memes or scrolling through them. Kilari and Jain were working with different companies, and realised that meme posts were getting more engagement than a normal post.

On what made them to start their own venture, chief creative officer, Kilari says that soon, they realised that ‘meme’ is a language. “It has its own emotions and nostalgic relevancy. If one knows how to tap them, they can easily win the social media game.”

“It has its own emotions and nostalgic relevancy. If one knows how to tap them, they can easily win the social media game."
Vivekanand Kilari, WLDD

He adds that the brand set the first principles of meme marketing. “These became templates for those companies that came later. Eventually, everybody gets better with everybody's influence. So, the entire meme marketing culture and concept is also getting better.”

An edge over integrated digital marketing agencies

What makes meme marketing companies different from other social media/digital marketing agencies? Why did these founders decide to specialise in an extremely niche form of marketing? 

WLDD’s Jain mentions that social media companies follow a fixed template, according to which they keep altering the content of different topical posts. However, meme marketing brings in the missing organic element in these kinds of posts.

"The integrated agencies have spread themselves too thin to master a particular skill. While they may know 40% of every medium, they are not the experts of everything."
Saksham Jadon, Youngun

With social media evolving at a very high pace, there is a need to have well equipped strategies in place. The meme world is changing at an even faster rate. Jadon of Youngun believes that to keep pace, the task has to be handled by a dedicated agency, and not by an integrated one.

“The integrated agencies have spread themselves too thin to master a particular skill. While they may know 40% of every medium, they are not the experts of everything. Also, their process of handling work, is also very mechanical, and they are not as open to learning from experiences, as is a dedicated agency,” adds Jadon.

Explaining how meme marketing companies are different from any other digital marketing agency, Kilari says that when brands have to spend money on a platform to get a certain amount of reach, they use digital marketing. Meme marketing helps the brands to use the same platform at the lowest cost, and create content in a way that it gets engagement for the brand.

According to its co-founders, WLDD is also the best ally for social media agencies, as it helps them wherever there is a scope of creating meme content. Currently, WLDD works with 15-20 digital marketing and social media agencies.

The ultimate deliverable of virality

While reacting to, or browsing through, memes on social media is all fun and games, creating one is not a cakewalk. Especially, ensuring ‘virality’ can be a huge challenge that all brands expect out of meme marketing.

One of the most crucial factors that helps in ensuring virality, as per Jadon, is the scope of interaction that a meme offers its audience. The reason why the Zomato-Blinkit billboard ad got viral is because it had immense user interaction scope.

Hence, to create viral content, the team needs to predict user interactions in advance. What will trigger conversations and what will make users to share their opinions and make a particular post go viral on social media, must be determined in advance, says Jadon.

WLDD’s Kilari points out that a strong understanding of pop culture and being aware of the important things that are happening around, help in coming up with right kind of content. Having knowledge about simple tools like Canva and Inshorts, can help one in becoming a creator quickly, he adds.

Way ahead for meme branding

While WLDD has managed to create an impact with its social curation, where it currently reaches out to 4% of Indians every month, the company wishes to increase it to 25% in the next three years.

"This year is going to be more about D2C brands, as they have realised the potential of memes in reducing their CAC."
Arihant Jain, WLDD

Jain says, “We will be co-creating a lot of meme IPs in the coming years. In the last four years, WLDD has worked with over 100 brands across OTT, consumer tech, financial services, e-commerce and D2C space. This year is going to be more about D2C brands, as they have realised the potential of memes in reducing their CAC. A lot of traditional brands – national and local – will also start moving to meme marketing.”

Going forward, the main focus for Youngun will be to create pop culture moments around brands. Most of its clients now are digital-first. 

Youngun also wants to work with FMCG brands that may not have a strong social presence. Jadon states that most of them advertise through TVCs. However, as their TG is moving towards digital mediums, brands will also be required to transition there.

“If all brands understand the scope of meme marketing, it will further bolster its growth and enable the industry to become mainstream,” he adds.

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