There is a traditionally held belief within our industry that the best products or services to use humor to promote are things that don’t cost a lot of money or require a lot of thought like; beer, candy bars, soft drinks or fast food but, an insurance selling duck (which looks more like Goose) and it’s witty Gecko counterpart might disagree. Airline tickets aren’t cheap but Southwest Airlines has had great success with their humor based “wanna get away?” ad campaign and, despite the cost of buying a new automobile, Isuzu says their wacky “Joe Isuzu” ad campaign from the late 1980’s was their most successful to date.
Ultimately what people consider to be funny or not funny, in good taste or bad, is simply their opinion and you will never be able to please everyone so, I say if a business owner wants to try something funny or bold, go for it. If you’re not offending marginalized people, why not go there?!?!? Curse words, sexual overtones and potty humor have their place in art, pop culture and marketing and regardless of your opinions, these things have made movie studios, record companies, t.v. stations, advertisers, and comedians rich for decades, this is an irrefutable fact.
I can say with confidence that many times in my life I have purchased goods and services from companies with less than memorable ad campaigns, I’m sure if you took the time to think about it, you could say the same. Personally, outside of the quality or value of their product or service, I am far more concerned with how companies treat their employees, their customers and how socially or environmentally conscious they are than I am with their slogans or gimmicks. There is no reward without risk, no great success without the potential for epic failure and nobody great got anywhere by trying to be like everyone else.
On that note, let’s talk about candy, diabetes, obesity, bikinis, colon scopes, pap smears, deforestation, furniture, nerds, lawyers and drinking on the job. That is a sampling of some of the content in our upcoming Daylight Savings radio ad. The commercial is a parody of overly ambitious sales promotions used by companies from different industries on obscure holidays, At the end of the ad, we will be presenting our own promotion for an obscure day of the year in glorious hypocritical fashion. We will have recorded so much material for this ad that we will be making different versions of it, to air on different stations and, may end up using some additional material in future projects.
Originally, I had only written 3 clips for the ad, then the boss asked me to write a few more, then a few more, then a few more until we ended up with 16 before Ian “Baby Girl” Davis, A.k.a M.C. Sledge Hammer, had a stroke of genius for a 17th during a recording session, easily the most risqué of the bunch. Secretly, the 13-year-old in me is crossing his fingers and biting his lip hoping the Bossman uses it but, I realize that it may be a little too explicit for general listening audiences, it might play better to “Love Line” or “Dr. Ruth” fans. I am so excited for this ad that I asked our Executive Producer, A.k.a O.M.G.(Old Man Google) if he will make me a personal copy when he’s done editing, one that contains all of the clips, without time constraints, for my own narcissistic amusement. At the risk of sounding like a sycophantic suck up,(not that anyone is reading this) I cannot understate how impressive his editing and mixing skills have become, he really brings these ads to life, his timing, use of sound effects, fade outs, layering, and musical choices are spot on and he is great at coming up with ideas for the ending of these ads(or a pretty little “bow”, as he calls them), indeed the force is strong with this one, I foresee he will become a great Jedi Master.
This concludes the “Humor in Advertising” trilogy but I will be posting updates about future ads when they conclude production. Make sure not to read next week’s blog about annoying telemarketers and the ever-changing landscape of phone sales.