The use of memes has been – and continues to be – the subject of debate; On the one hand, some argue that memes are an effective and engaging way to connect with a young audience or an audience that has hitherto been inaccessible for whatever reason; On the other hand, there are those who believe that the use of these may call into question the quality and professionalism of the work; In the age of information and the power of social media, memes have become a popular form of online communication. These images, videos or humorous texts that go viral quickly can have a significant impact on society; We have seen how a few years ago the big consumer brands started to use this format in their social channels, the most recent viral case with the well-known controversy between Shakira and Piqué where Casio and Twingo were featured.
In the political arena, memes have also found their place, especially in election campaigns, where candidates seek to take advantage of their popularity and the reach of social networks. Here are some examples of the use of this tool in the 28M election campaigns:
- The PSOE candidate of Segovia, Clara Martín, winks at the previously mentioned Shakira song with Quevedo. ‘Clara-mente comprometida con Segovia’.
- The PP candidate for mayor of La Matanza, Santomera (Murcía), Víctor Manuel Martínez, announces himself with the message “La Matanza que quieres”, a pun on the name of the municipality.
— Cadena SER (@La_SER) May 15, 2023
- Rita Maestre, candidate for Más Madrid in the region, has used the expression ‘Lo va a hacer Rita’ in her slogan, a phrase that honors Rita la Cantaora.
- The PSOE of Granada, with the candidate Paco Cuenca (current president) has used the popular phrase that we all know for the creation of its slogan: ‘Cuenca pone al mundo mirando a Granada’.
Another interesting example in this respect, which has gone viral on social networks, is the campaign of the PP candidate for the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso. In this case, they have been users who have determined that the campaign was a meme in itself, although we do not know if this was the intention of the party. The claim ‘Ganas de Madrid’, which is repeated ad nauseam in the video recorded in the bullring of Las Ventas (Madrid), accompanied by the clicks that have given so much play, have already marked the electoral campaign of Ayuso.
These are just a few examples; there are plenty of them where humour is the main focus; However, their use as campaign slogans raises interesting questions about their effectiveness and the risks they face;
The power of memes in politics
- Reach and virality: memes have the ability to spread quickly through social networks, making them a powerful tool for conveying political messages. A clever, well-designed meme can reach millions of people in a matter of hours;
- engage with young audiences: memes are especially popular with young people, who are often disillusioned with traditional politics. By using memes in campaign slogans, candidates try to connect with this segment of the population and show that they are aware of current trends;
- Creativity and originality: memes allow candidates to show their creative and original side; By using a humorous approach, they can present their message in a more accessible and engaging way, breaking away from the seriousness associated with politics.
The potential risks in the use of memes in election campaigns
- Decontextualisation and misunderstandings; They often depend on specific cultural or situational references; When used in politics, there is a risk that the message will be misinterpreted or the reference will be lost, which can lead to embarrassment or even a bad image of the candidate;
- Loss of credibility; Their use in politics can trivialise serious issues and undermine the credibility of candidates; It can lead to a perception that politicians do not take their responsibilities seriously and use superficial strategies to attract voters;
- Limited and short-term impact; While memes may have an initial impact on social media, their long-term effectiveness in electoral decision-making is questionable; Voters may not take the messages presented through memes seriously and prefer a more substantive analysis of the candidates’ issues and proposals;
While memes can be an effective strategy to reach a young audience and convey messages in a creative way, they also carry significant risks, especially with the loss of credibility; Political communication strategists should carefully weigh the benefits and risks before using memes in their election strategy;
Are memes a reflection of today’s politics? Will the use of memes be beneficial for election campaigns on 28M? We will soon see;