What’s in a meme? A look at Gucci’s newest ad campaign

Anyone who uses social media is familiar with the concept of memes. But, no one expected to see memes created and published by an esteemed high-end retailer in lieu of a traditional ad campaign.

According to Google, a meme is “a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.” Earlier this month, luxury brand Gucci began utilizing memes to advertise their newest campaign, dubbed #TFWGucci. (For those of you who are not social media savvy, “TFW” is an acronym meaning “the feel when.”)

A scroll through Gucci’s Instagram profile (@gucci) reveals a slew of popular memes repurposed and aimed at its luxury consumers. Many followers were slightly shocked to see Gucci’s memes on their Instagram feeds.

After all, “it’s kind of a well-known fact that the fashion world, particularly the luxury goods industry, has been slow to adopt technology. And then it moved at a snail’s pace to get on social media,” according to Dash Hudson, a company that focuses on Instagram return on investment (ROI) for many big-name brands.

“Luxury labels have been getting by on these platforms thanks to name recognition, but as Instagram evolves and various content trends come and go, it is indeed becoming increasingly imperative for them to start shifting their thinking toward devising social-first strategies.”

By implementing this unique strategy, Gucci instantly set itself apart from its competitors, who do not keep up with social media content trends, such as memes.

“A lot of luxury brands don’t really appear to have a concise social strategy in place and just go about it according to their HQ’s marketing activities,” Dash Hudson continues.

Luxury fashion brands tend steer clear of mainstream trends, on social media or otherwise, in order to maintain their aloof, exclusive personas. So, it is no surprise that it came as, well, a surprise, with the Italian fashion house took on the quirky trend full-force.

[source: Dash Hudson]
The second post of Gucci’s entire meme campaign features a watch showing through a torn suit sleeve, captioned “When you got that new watch and have to show it off.”

With an engagement rate of 1.34 percent, according to Dash Hudson, this post sits in second place among the Gucci account’s top 4 highest performing posts of all time–second only to another #TFWGucci post. The third and fourth place posts are not associated with this campaign.

Gucci’s highest performing post of all-time, by a margin of .21 percent, is a close-up shot of a female model adorned with what appears to be Gucci-inspired temporary tattoos. Her hand and face are covered in drawn-on tags: an Instagram feature used to identify who’s who in a given picture.

“The top 2 memes from the campaign actually became [Gucci’s] top 2 most engaged posts of all-time, dethroning [a snapshot of] the Obamas,” according to Dash Hudson.

[source: Dash Hudson]
Followers are obviously responding well to this unconventional ad campaign, but, like the old phrases says, no good deed goes unpunished. Or, in this case, uncriticized. Fashion enthusiasts all over the world took to social media (of course) to speak out on Gucci’s new campaign.

“I’m not upset that Gucci is making memes now. I’m upset because the memes are bad,” @robesman writes via Twitter.

“These Gucci memes are not funny [and] really not relatable,” adds @erikabowes.

“I’m sure it sounded dope when they were brainstorming, but Gucci’s meme campaign is one of the lamest things I’ve ever seen,” @Sipho_Says writes.

Still, some fans of the brand are unsure how they feel about its new ad campaign.

“Gucci made itself a meme account, and I can’t decide if I love it or hate it,” @rubykburns tweets.