There’s a right way to use cats to increase brand awareness.

If the internet is a fire, photos of cats with adorned with funny captions are the fuel. They draw millions of hits to Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and countless other sites, and while there’s nothing new about them, there’s also no sign they’re going away.

Marketers can and have taken advantage of cat meme popularity, and your brand may benefit as well. English milk manufactures, Cravendale, created a wildly successful viral ad campaign based around the idea of giving cats opposable thumbs. Seven million YouTube hits later, they found themselves with more brand awareness and higher sales. However, there’s a right way to use memes — and a wrong way.

The Science Behind Cat Memes

Although there haven’t been any peer-reviewed studies about why cat memes are so popular, there have been a couple of theories. One popular theory is that cats resemble human babies, according to Equally possible is that cat lovers take to the Internet in droves because they have nowhere else to admire a cat’s independence and grace.

What we do know is that cat memes are extremely popular. The Internet meme site Cheezburger noted in 2013 that people were 10 times more likely to submit homemade memes that involved cats than dogs, and a cat video festival attracted 10,000 people. Cat lovers seem to unite behind cute pictures and videos of cats, making them a potentially powerful marketing tool.

Advantages of Using Memes

According to, there are several advantages to using memes in your marketing campaign.

  1. They can add to the relevance or freshness of your brand. Younger people especially appreciate memes, although there is a market for older customers as well.
  2. Anything that makes people laugh is a good thing for your brand. When customers laugh, it builds rapport and makes it more likely they will buy from you.
  3. Memes are easy to make and usually don’t cost a lot of money. As long as you use free-to-use photos or your own photos, you probably won’t have to pay anything for them.
  4. Memes often “go viral,” or get shared quickly all over the Internet. As a marketer, this is exactly what you want. The more people that share your content, the more exposure you have and the better chances you have of making sales.

When to Use Memes

Use memes when it fits into your branding and your marketing campaign. Their appropriateness also depends on your audience.

Most memes are funny in nature, so it doesn’t make sense to use them if you’re trying to appeal to a formal or professional audience. For example, if you market testing supplies or medications to health care workers, you may not want to use memes, at least not in the middle of highly scientific content.

You also shouldn’t use memes that are irrelevant to your content. Don’t put a page up of “funny cat pictures” that have nothing to do with what you’re selling. For example, if you are a service-oriented business, don’t put up memes about cats getting on the Internet to buy cat toys–unless, of course, you are a cat care business that wants to make a point about the importance of keeping your pets entertained.

Don’t assume, however, that cat memes are totally irrelevant if your business has nothing to do with cats. Cat memes can be appropriate if they make the correct point. Many businesses have used them to sell a variety of products and services. Just make sure your memes have something to say besides, “Look at me, I’m cute” so that you can reap their benefits.

Have you used cat memes for a content marketing campaign? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.