Sean Bean and lolcats: The Power of the Meme

Posted on: 15th Apr 2014 by: Dokoo

What is a Meme?

The term ‘meme’ was first used by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins to describe a kind of cultural expression that communicates social memories or cultural concepts in a simple packaged form to another person. The word meme comes from the Greek mimema, meaning ‘imitation’. Easily retold or passed on a meme could historically be a style or story, a parable or joke.

In today’s digital culture the meme is a powerful tool to communicate instantly an idea or commonly perceived concept - often humourous. These images often go viral - simply packaged ideas passed on and shared with one click. 

Cats are important online.

Meme Culture

The notorious forum website 4chan, known best for being home to hackivist group Anonymous, is birthplace of the modern meme. The simple style that has propagated across the net seemed to start there, a website where users would congregate, as a means of sharing humorous observations. 

The use of the meme has evolved so much that these days it is often used in conversation as a way of articulating a sentiment: 

Meme Marketing

Many big brands in the US are picking up on the power of meme to carry their products across the web virally. While there is no hard science to going viral, a large part of modern business should be dedicated to studying and understanding digital cultural trends. Check out these two famous brands who harnessed meme and seen serious results:


During the 2013 Superbowl the lights went out. Oreo marketers were quick on the ball in the boardroom to create the meme below which was tweeted out during the 34-minute blackout. It got 10,000 retweets and is almost more memorable than the actual game. 


Keen to cash in on the power of meme Virgin launched a billboard campaign using the image known online as ‘Success Kid’, bringing a smile to internet users on the long commute. 

Why not try it out? Get creative! Just make sure you understand exactly what you’re communicating though - don’t get yourself in trouble.

Tags: social media in northern ireland, lolcats, internet memes, social media advertising, social media marketing agency, digital strategy,