Turning modern advertising into meme culture

With the start of the NFL season and introduction of Colin Kaepernick as the new face of Nike, the controversy over Kaepernick’s history and anthem kneeling kicked back up in earnest. The main static advertisement (a black and white profile picture of Kaepernick with the phrase “Believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”) immediately spawned discussion across social media.

Many people, still upset over the ongoing peaceful protests by NFL players, raised their complaints once again, with some even calling for a boycott of Nike. Others quickly turned the ad into a meme, replacing Kaepernick with other pop culture figures like Thanos from the Marvel movies. Most of the parodies I’ve seen aren’t as well done as some of the other cultural memes that have spread like wildfire, such as the distracted boyfriend or American Choppers fight.

Still, I saw an opportunity for one of my clients, DJ Trivia WNY. This nightly bar trivia event takes place at dozens of locations throughout the week. Teams play through four rounds of questions, and at the end of each round, they are presented with a bonus question to double their points. After the final round, however, the teams can bet all or nothing during a “Do or die” question that is likely one of the more obscure quizzers of the evening. They don’t have to play the question if they don’t believe they have the right answer to keep their points.

Believe. All or nothing. Sacrificing everything. I had all the elements to parody the Nike ad, while turning it into a clever and funny advertisement for my client straight up.


When I posted the image to the client’s social media this week, it received great reactions and engagement, including from the owner of DJ Trivia WNY himself. It’s also “evergreen” content; long after all the fuss dies down, I can use it again because the client’s audiences will recognize the experience of playing DJ Trivia even without the meme.

Not all memes can be easily transformed into content for your brand if the messaging is off, but if you can connect the two, it’s a great way to attract attention for your business and social media following.

As the ad says, just do it.