Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Memes, Minds, & Marketing: How Generation Z Perceives and Processes Memetic Advertisements Public Deposited
  • This mixed-method research explores how the digitally native Generation Z relies on the use of cognitive heuristics and heuristic information processing strategies to interpret and contextualize internet memes intended specifically for advertising. Major companies have recently begun hiring content creators who specialize in creating memetic (i.e., meme-based) advertisements in an attempt to broaden their following among younger social media users. Despite this development, scholarly work on memetic advertising is scarce and no previous studies have directly linked internet memes to cognitive heuristics. This dissertation attempts to fill these gaps, with a specific eye toward the generation that is most receptive to online memetic communication.Qualitative focus group evidence suggests that Generation Z social media users primarily rely upon memes for humor and social connectedness and employ multiple credibility heuristics when evaluating advertising memes. Quantitative experimental evidence suggests that familiar brand names are regarded more favorably than unfamiliar brand names due to name recognition and heuristic associations with brand reputation. Specialized knowledge structures and understanding of ongoing cultural narratives are implicated in digital natives' heuristic processing of memetic content. Ultimately, this dissertation provides foundational insights into how members of Generation Z perceive and process the memes they encounter on social media and applies these insights to prescriptive advice for brands seeking to use internet memes as advertisements.

Date Issued
  • 2022-05-26
Academic Affiliation
Committee Member
Degree Grantor
Commencement Year
Last Modified
  • 2022-12-13
Resource Type
Rights Statement