The Advertising Apprentice

September 20, 2009

So You Think You’re Funny?

Filed under: Advertising — adamlauzon @ 8:19 PM
Tags: , , , ,

The idea for this week’s entry came from an article in the New York Times written by Stuart Elliott. In the article Elliott discusses a new campaign being introduced to promote the Butterfinger chocolate bar. From the sounds of things it seems as if this is a very well-rounded campaign, combining a sweepstake with online and social media efforts, in-store promotions, and the video clips aired at the beginning of shows at comedy clubs across the U.S. They’ve also done a very good job at doing their market research in defining who their target market is.

While I could easily examine the campaign further or the challenge faced by trying to create branded entertainment I will instead address the idea of the “creative genius”, if you will, required to write a funny ad.

A professor of mine at the University of Ottawa once said that an ad will give you one of three things: information, titillation, or a laugh. A discussion of that idea in itself could easily suffice for this week’s entry! I’ll leave it untouched for the time being. If you have any thoughts of your own on it, please feel free to post your comments below.

Many of us think we’re funny and we’re comedians at heart so the task of writing a funny ad would seem relatively easy. It is, but it isn’t! Let me explain further. Not to take anything away from the talent I or other copywriters possess, but with a bit of practice I’m sure most people would be able to come up with a pretty funny 30-second spot. However, and this is where the amateurs are separated from the pros, it is possible for your ad to be funny but be completely “useless” at the same time. If your spot is memorable and funny but not because of the product itself then you’ve failed the company that has paid you thousands of dollars to create an ad for them.

Your job as a copywriter with the space/time you’ve been given is to generate interest and create action for the product/service. So if people remember the commercial because of the funny character or the joke that was made, but can’t recall what product or service was being advertised, you’ve just failed your client! So your product/service must be incorporated within the joke/punch-line to succeed.

To further explain what I mean, have a look at the following two commercials:

Saying that this commercial is hilarious may be pushing the line, but it certainly is funny. Despite having over two and half million views on YouTube it probably hasn’t translated into a noticeable increase in sales for Mercedes. So while it does meet the objective of being funny, it fails in tying the product into the joke. When talking about this commercial to your friends you’ll describe it as: “That funny commercial where the blonde tries to order food in the library.” Not “that funny Mercedes-Benz commercial where the blonde tries to order food in the library.” In a struggling economy and an industry where sales is the driving force, so the 2.5 million YouTube views is great but if it doesn’t translate into an increase in sales for Mercedes this view-count is almost meaningless.

To contrast this, have a look at this commercial:

This commercial on the other hand is not only funny, but more importantly it is successful in integrating the product into the joke. When discussing the ad with your friends you invariably have to refer to it as “the Bud Light commercial where the dog bites the guy in the crotch.” That discussion will put Bud Light fresh in your mind and the next time you’re at the beer store you may very likely pick-up a case of Bud Light just based on your ability to easily recall that funny Bud Light commercial.


1 Comment »

  1. What’s up, after reading this amazing paragraph i am as well glad to share my familiarity here with mates.

    Comment by funny — January 19, 2015 @ 12:44 PM | Reply

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