Speed Kills: Why Meme Marketing Rules the Internet

Mark Schaefer
8 min readSep 25

I spend a lot of time thinking about how marketing has changed over my lifetime … and what’s next. I could argue that the biggest change I’ve witnessed is “velocity.” Marketing used to be about planning, executing, and measuring. Today, it’s about response, response, response to cultural moments. Meme marketing is fast, furious, and here to stay.

I wanted to write about speed and marketing because to commerate the tenth anniversary of the 10 minutes of advertising that launched the speed marketing revolution.

At 8:48 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on February 03, 2013, this milestone event occurred. Thousands of articles have been written about it. Those 10 minutes changed careers, created new companies and forged new economic models for marketing and advertising.

It was magical. It seemed like a miracle. And it was all about cookies (the yummy kind).

The moment marketing changed forever

Bringing an ad or marketing campaign to life is a laborious process. You prepare ideas and pitch them to your customer, secure funding, explore creative options, finalize the creative, obtain legal approval, buy media space, and then execute the campaign. This journey could take months.

That reality changed during one Sunday evening in 2013.

It was Super Bowl Sunday in America.

The world watched as the Baltimore Ravens clashed with the San Francisco 49ers. It was the perfect stage for brands to shine. But nobody anticipated the unexpected — a power outage plunged the New Orleans Superdome into darkness. A beloved brand entered the stage … Oreo cookies.

360i, the agency behind this masterpiece, seized the moment like marketing maestros (fun fact I actually had a hand in creating this Dentsu unit, but that is a story for another day). In the midst of the blackout, 360i concocted a 30-second ad with simplicity and brilliance. Against a black backdrop, a solitary Oreo cookie emerged, accompanied by the tagline “You can still dunk in the dark.”

Mark Schaefer

Keynote speaker, marketing strategy consultant, Rutgers U faculty and author of 10 books including KNOWN, Marketing Rebellion, and Belonging to the Brand!