Each week, The Drum asks agency experts from across the world and the ad business for their take on a tough question facing the industry, from topical concerns to perennial pain points. Frederico Roberto, commerce creative director, Publicis.Poke shares his view.

Vodafone Italy’s recent campaign featuring stock photography model András Aratóknown on the web as ’Hide the pain Harold,’ served as a reminder that brands can, in fact, jump in on online conversations without incurring immediate cringe.

Few brands, in their advertising creative or social output, can manage such a trick. But memes, and the discourse they underpin, are a crucial element of modern communication. No organization wanting to participate in contemporary culture should ignore them outright. But how can agency creatives and brands utilize these tools without incurring the derision (or confusion) of their target audience?

Frederico Roberto, commerce creative director, Publicis.Poke

Over the past few years we’ve witnessed the rise of ‘the people’s creativity’ through the likes of Reddit and TikTok: sometimes for social commentary, sometimes just for the sake of trolling. By connecting cultural dots that no one thought of or saw before, a meme is all about taking something that’s already extremely popular and twisting it – or elevating it – into a new story. Take the recent TikTok trend ‘He’s a 10 but…’: we had some fun with this for our client Takis during July’s heatwave.

This article was originally published in The Drum.