What Does This Commercial Meme?

On January 28, 2019 Michelob Ultra released a commercial for its new Pure Gold organic beer. The commercial shows actress Zoë Kravitz making ASMR noises in the rainforest. ASMR stands for autonomous sensory meridian response and describes the experience of a tingling or static sensation caused by certain noises. ASMR videos have been trending for some time now and constantly pop up on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube feeds.This image from video provided by Michelob shows a frame from their 2019 Super Bowl commercial for Michelob Ultra Pure Gold. The ad features the actress Zoe Kravitz using techniques for autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR. It is described as a tingly euphoric response, usually starting on the head and scalp, and sometimes spreading down the neck, arms or back.

Michelob Ultra is not the only company attempting to cash in on what is trending on social media. Many companies have started using memes and viral videos as inspiration for their own posts on social media accounts and even in commercials, as seen from Michelob Ultra. This begs the question, is it appropriate to use memes and trending internet videos on a company’s social media platform or in ads? Additionally, how does this affect the audience that the company is reaching?

The people that spend the most amount of time on the internet are between the ages of 16 and 34. This would be the demographic that a company would be catering to using this type of messaging. According to Digiday, an anti-drinking PSA billboard in Pennsylvania used a meme to get their messaging across. In this case, the age demographic fit well and the meme resonated with teenagers. Virgin Media also used a meme on a billboard to promote its HD channel offerings.

While this messaging is current and funny for certain demographics, older consumers may not understand what these images mean and how they represent the advertiser. It has always been true; a joke is no longer funny if it needs to be explained. Memes or viral videos will always need to be explained to those who do not spend significant amounts of time on the internet or social media.

From a public relations standpoint, companies should carefully consider whether or not memes or viral internet trends are in alignment with their messaging. A poorly chosen meme or viral video could confuse segments of the audience and actually distract from the points the company is trying to get across. The ASMR in the Michelob Ultra Pure Gold commercial has the potential to dilute the key attributes of the product that Michelob Ultra wants consumers to hear. A clear message is always important when it comes to public relations.

For more information on how to get the messaging right for your organization, contact Kovak-Likly Communications at (203) 762-8833.

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