The 8 most memorable memes of 2020
Memes, as random or silly as they might be, are becoming a key part of brands’ social media marketing strategies. For many brands, it’s a way to show consumers they care about the same topics their followers are posting about. The mess that is 2020 gave everyone plenty to talk—and meme—about.
Flexing their cultural cache, brands hopped on everything from the mysterious monolith discovered in Utah to Kim Kardashian West's tone-deaf pandemic birthday party, of course incorporating their products whenever possible. Here are the top memes brands latched onto this year:
‘Dreams’ and Ocean Spray
Arguably, the top meme of the year happened on the platform of our No.1 marketer of the year—TikTok. In October, Nathan Apodaca (a.k.a 420doggface208 on TikTok) posted a video where he’s drinking Ocean Spray cranberry juice while riding a skateboard and lip-synching to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” The viral video quickly became a meme with people posting their own versions ... even Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood did his own version and so did Ocean Spray CEO Tom Hayes. Ocean Spray gifted the star a cranberry red Nissan pickup truck stocked with juice and picked up his tab for his honeymoon. TikTok then took the meme and turned it into a commercial.
If there’s something bizarre happening online, you bet brands will be there to keep the weirdness flowing. When a metal monolith arbitrarily appeared in Utah and then disappeared, and similar monoliths appeared in different locations around the world, people took to Twitter to make fun of the situation with their own “monolith” memes. Brands like McDonald’s and Southwest Airlines shared their own.
How it started; how it’s going
In 2020, we saw a worldwide pandemic, a reckoning around racial justice issues and an outlandish election. Starting around the end of October and trending well into November and December, people began sharing memes of images comparing how the year began and how the year ended. So did brands.
This claim is disputed
In November, after the election, Twitter began putting a label on President Trump’s declarations of voter fraud stating: “This claim about voter fraud is disputed.” People began placing the label on their own topics or replacing the words of the label to emphasize their own messaging. Brands like Oreo and Burger King chimed in, and Twitter was okay with all of it, since the memes do not violate the platform’s policies.
Kim Kardashian West’s tone-deaf birthday
Kim Kardashian West should have seen this one coming. In October, the TV star tweeted about her 40th birthday celebration—a getaway to a private island with her “closet inner circle” in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Well, her tweet came off as completely tone-deaf. Only someone as privileged as her could jet off to celebrate with friends. People teased her relentlessly across social platforms. Slim Jim, Planters and other brands had their own retorts.
Home Depot’s 12-ft skeletons
In October, The Home Depot sold out of its 12-foot-tall skeletons. These Halloween decorations, which went for $300 each, started appearing in people’s social posts and then they became memes. Somehow brands, like Impossible Foods and 1-800-Contacts got their metaphorical hands on them or used images of them to make their own memes.
Reese Witherspoon's 2020 meme challenge
Back in August, actress Reese Witherspoon started a meme challenge that depicted how the year was deteriorating already to that point. Celebrities took part and soon the challenge was trending across social platforms. Brands like Budweiser and Netflix made their contributions and did not disappoint.
It seems like forever ago, but in March and April, Netflix’s docuseries “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” became the perfect distraction from the coronavirus lockdowns shaking the nation. As people shared memes and jokes about “Tiger King” characters, brands had to get in on the tiger fun too. Brands like Sabra and Four Loko found creative ways to reach out to all the cool cats and kittens.