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Special Project

Special Project
From the 16th Annual Shorty Awards

Azerothian Meme Madness

Entered in Real Time Response


One of the most important advantages of social media as a marketing tool is the ability to interact, directly and in real time, with your audience and that of other brands. Engaging in conversation with others over emerging viral events or trends is a pivotal component of any effective social strategy. 

World of Warcraft (WoW) is one of the biggest games globally, with over X million players, all chatting in-game and in other online spaces. That’s a lot of opportunity for engagement, and our social team has always prioritized being at the center of those conversations with thoughtful reactive social media strategies. 

In 2023, we recommitted to our goal of quickly identifying and executing fun and engaging in-game takes on cultural moments within hours of these trends emerging. The year was packed with extraordinary pop-culture moments and the WoW team made it a point to be a part of those conversations. 

A few highlights this year included our responses to Snoop Dogg ‘giving up smoke’, NASA discovering a question mark in space, the nationwide text alert that had people worried about turning into zombies, and of course, the Grimace shake cultural moment.

Strategy and Execution

Effective reactive social media strategies require effort across the team, with everyone on the lookout for opportunities to add our unique voice to the conversation. When those opportunities appeared, we prioritized rapid action with team-wide consensus on messaging and design. 

Our engagement strategy pivoted around something no other brand has; World of Warcraft’s unique identity, legacy, and voice. To contextualize these cultural moments within our world of Azeroth, we combined in-game assets and creative design to resonate strongly with our playerbase in a way no one else could.

When Snoop Dogg announced he was ‘giving up smoke’, we saw immediate opportunity, despite the risks if the announcement ended up being a marketing stunt. By utilizing well-known and beloved voice lines from earlier Warcraft games, we swiftly crafted a parody announcement, with our beloved Peon character announcing he was giving up, “work work.” 

Players quickly responded, sharing references to Peons that have appeared throughout Warcraft’s long history.

In August, NASA shared an image of a deep space object that resembled a question mark. As our audience well knows, a yellow question mark is a defining characteristic of the WoW user interface, symbolizing a non-player character with a quest for the player. Our designers quickly put together an image that referenced the discovery, featuring an Easter egg of a well known in-game item. The results were immediate: a significant boost in audience engagement and enthusiasm.

Another example of effective reactive strategy focused on a nationwide text alert that had more…creative folks questioning if a zombie outbreak was imminent. It was a strange moment in online discourse, but one we couldn’t resist adding our voice to…and we knew just the person for the job.  

One of the most-well known villains from the Warcraft universe just so happens to be a Lich King, a master of the undead, just the sort of ne'er-do-well to mastermind such a sinister plot. Utilizing a trending hashtag and an image of our Lich King Arthas, we posted our take to wide acclaim from our audience and beyond. 

And of course, it’s impossible to talk about 2023 in social without mentioning the Grimace shake trend. McDonald’s bizarre mascot was everywhere. Fortunately, we also have a large, purple Old God who would love an opportunity in the limelight.

In a stellar example of cross-brand interaction, our in-game spin on the trend was very well received by our fans and resulted in media pickup across multiple gaming-focused publications.


The success of these pieces hinged on quick execution. Ensuring sufficient monitoring of social conversation, having designers and copywriters on hand to quickly ideate and execute, and a streamlined approval process all ensured we were able to engage effectively. 

All the included examples performed well above our channel’s norms; 11x shares over median for our Grimace piece, 5x likes over median for our Peon ‘work work’ post, and an average of 4.5x total engagements over median for all of these posts clearly demonstrated the efficacy of our reactive strategy. 

The conversation extended outside of social channels as well. Several posts were further amplified by gaming news outlets (, including multiple features on Gamerant. Our community also reposted content to Reddit with strong performance there as well (4.2k upvotes for the Snoop Dogg parody).

Our prioritization of nimble, topic-focused production has resulted in a notable uptick in audience positivity over the last year, including a follower retention rate on Twitter/X 2x over previous non-expansion years. Audience engagement on social helped drive player retention within the game as well, making 2023 one of the best years for World of Warcraft yet.

Our willingness to not only listen to our audience, but to engage directly with them in fun conversation resulted in a better experience for our followers and directly contributed to the brand’s continued success. 

It’s true what they say…listening is important.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Blizzard Entertainment


Entry Credits