What is a meme? The word first appeared way further back than you might think. It was in 1976 when Richard Dawkins first coined the phrase in his book ‘The Selfish Gene’ as he tried to explain how cultural information is spread from one individual to another by non-genetic means. This was then later adopted with the rise of the internet, and the Internet Meme is now a subset of this original idea specific to how cultural information is spread by use of the internet. A meme (pronounced /Mēm/), has now become largely an image with text overlaid or a theme/idea, which is then altered slightly, each time being taken out of context even further to convey another meaning, usually with more humour. Now that we’ve established what a meme is, shall we carry on to the point of this blog?
England has erupted in recent weeks with the national football teams excellent World Cup run. Regardless of whether the boys bring it home or not, it’s safe to say that this World Cup has provided some of the best social media content in history. From memes, to parody videos and celebrations, there has been no better football related content from a major tournament than what this World Cup has offered.
One particular trend has taken the nation by storm. For the first time in most of our lifetimes, England has gone further than the quarter-finals at a World Cup – or any major tournament for that matter – and in the words of Baddiel & Skinner – It’s Coming Home! Everyone from primary school children to celebrity football pundits have been getting involved in using the phrase, because why the hell not?!
Or at least we thought it was until we were knocked out on Wednesday evening against Croatia. Regardless, it was near impossible to go on to social media over the past 2-3 weeks without seeing someone parody a famous movie scene by replacing the soundtrack with the ’98 hit song. But why did it #ItsComingHome explode over so many social media channels?
Meme Culture is currently one of the biggest trends on social media, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. News/Entertainment accounts – such as LadBible, Footy Accumulators, Sporf etc – are continuously looking for ways to keep their engagement rates high, and keep the attention of their audiences. In order for them to keep engagement high, their content HAS to be funny, shareable, and relevant. In a world where we see so much negative news, people look to social media for a laugh.
It’s not just the likes of SportBible that are looking to jump on the meme train though, even Yorkshire Tea joined in as they took their branded van and parked up outside Ikea after the Quarter-final victory against Sweden:
They even went and did a video.
Done well, using humor to promote your brand is always a great avenue to exploit. Using humour AND keeping it relevant to current trends is even better!
Another great example of using trends to gain engagement on social media was from British Airways, who cleverly altered a boarding pass to incorporate the phrase. This tweet has gained over 20k likes and 8.7k RTs
In the early days, it was limited to memes – people photoshopping pictures to include the phrase, such as “What Gareth Southgate was writing in his notes”:
And after the emphatic win against Panama, more memes appeared after the public started believing…
As momentum built, we were subject to more memes and parody videos, and in an effort for everyone to be seen, the ‘It’s Coming Home’ hashtag was being used more and more. At the writing of this article (12th July), the hashtag has been used over 500,000 times on Twitter alone.
A popular theme that started to occur, was people making comparisons to 1966 – the one and only time England have won a World Cup. From spooky comparisons such as:
To really stretching for comparisons to ‘66…
People love to believe in fate on social media – especially when it favours them! Therefore, finding as many similarities between the ’66 campaign and now was at the forefront of making people believe that it could actually happen.
After the Belgium game, and Southgate’s incredible on-purpose tactics – where he pretended he wanted to win the game, but instead played a slightly weaker side, and lost, finishing second in the group, and having the easier run of games in the knockout stages – England fans started to have even more faith and belief in the England team. With a favourable run of games should they keep progressing, it seemed more likely that we could reach the final and avoid big teams such as Brazil, Germany, and Argentina.
This only accelerated people getting involved in creating more content in the hopes it would go viral. As soon as trending topics begin to emerge, it can get very competitive, and everyone is racing to get to the joke first. But it’s not just the members of the public getting in on the jokes, even the England footballers decided to get in on the trend and also poke fun at themselves, such as Jesse Lingard and Kyle Walker:
The fact that these guys, with the large followings, are getting involved adds even more fuel to the fire. At this moment, people start to dig back in to history, and every now and then a little gem turns up. After the win against Sweden, this tweet from Harry Maguire turned up after he was complaining about Ikea furniture…
This screenshot did the rounds on social media, gaining hundreds of thousands of reactions on Facebook. But why was this so popular? Firstly, his vengeance was fulfilled. He opened the scoring against Sweden in their Round of 16 draw, helping England to victory. Secondly, it’s utterly relatable. Everyone, at some point in their life, will tackle Ikea furniture, and they will struggle. It’s just a rite of passage. To ruin everyone’s fun though, it has since been proven that this tweet was, in fact, FAKE NEWS.
When a trend is doing the rounds, the Photoshop geniuses can really let loose. Everyone remembers the fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather last year. In the build-up, McGregor wore a suit to one of the press conferences with a certain message stitched into the pinstripe. Waistcoat sales have doubled recently, as fans look to mimic Southgate’s sideline style, and it was only a matter of time before someone did this…
On the day of their round of 16 game against Sweden, it was reported that the economy would be boosted by up to £28 million through the consumption of beer alone, and football fans boosted the economy by another £30 million on Wednesday evening for their Semi-final clash with Croatia. TFGM decided to use the phrase to convey safety messages to those getting caught up in the hype. By doing so, they utilized the current trend to spread their message even further, with accounts taking pictures of the sign on Manchester’s Bolton Road and sharing it with their followers.
Although England may have been eliminated from the World Cup on Wednesday, there is no denying that the reason behind the success of the ‘Footballs Coming Home’ trend is the entertainment these lads have provided during this tournament. The fact that such a young, inexperienced team can make a divided nation unite and get behind them when so much faith has been lost from the England football team over the years, is a testament to their dedication, and to Southgate’s refreshing tactics. They have managed to grip a nation, in a positive way, and they’ve shadowed some of the negative aspects of what England is going through right now – such as Brexit. Do not forget, this team is only young. This is just the beginning. They have a long way to go.
Although the World cup didn’t come home. Football definitely did. And this tweet sums it up perfectly.
If you’re looking for some of the best ‘Footballs Coming Home’ memes, then take a look at this BuzzFeed article.