Regardless of medium, copywriting is communicating and inciting call-to-action in readers. From print media to web, copywriters are now challenged with the success of viral content marketing by social media and memes. A meme simply put, is an idea, behaviour, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. Today, writers exercise writing, rewriting, editing and publishing within seconds and as a result, extending new vernaculars and redefining readability, scanability and relatability. “The impact of new media on the writing process is notable for the unprecedented speed and spread of its influence.” (Steve Caputo, 2009) With memes being prevalent artefacts in the participatory culture, readers are able to grasp the overall message with a glance and with the ease of scanability as well as relatability, making it prominent in the mediated public discourse.
Thus, copywriters need to compete with this cultural evolution of memes by “writing visually”. (Emily Shea, 2015) As Henry Jenkins said, “if the right meme was deployed, theory suggests, it would successfully acquire people, reaching more and more possible consumers as goes.” Memes in the digital culture are, “collective conversations intertwine with multimodal expression, becoming vernacular creativity.” (Ryan M,Milner) It is not only conversational but a language created by creative individuals. Burgess, 2007, suggests that vernacular is more connected to the folk than the normal, more to the amateur than professional, more to the bricoleur than the craftsperson and the surge in non-professional creativity, viewed as “new ethic of amateurism” could be one of the defining features of a developed society. (Leadbeater & Miller, 2004, p.22) He has also described vernacular creativity as a “space of hope” for cultural citizenship and is optimistic about its potential to provide citizens a means for connection and expression. He also mentioned that the ultimate public good of vernacular creativity is increased public voice; this is the hope of memetic participation, despite the limitations of participatory media.
As social media becomes an influential factor in editorial decisions of persuasive copies, it has changed the qualification demands of a copywriter. Copywriters now have to instill humour into their ideas as clear, concise and compelling is not enough. “Copy must now be meme worthy” (Demian Farnworth, 2012) Today’s copywriters must be able to communicate with a one liner as well as pages long copies.
An example of users recreating memes with different contexts based off the original meme would be such as PSY’s Gangnam Style. It was an Internet craze for a period of time in 2012 that gathered millions of views and shares in the online community. In the same year, Gangnam Style’s meme was recreated into “Mitt Romney Style” during the US presidential election. This relates to Henry Jenkin’s theory of spreadability as it “relies on open-ended participation as diversely motivated but deeply engaged consumers retrofit content to the contours of different niche communities.” User-generated content, two-way flow information, participatory culture. (Jenkins, 2006) This execution of incorporating the old with the new is explained as “remix media; an active participatory culture especially in this case because it is bringing in political knowledge that was actively going on at the time.” (Lawrence Lessig)