Monday, July 7, 2008

Comedy in Communication


Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses. He doesn't seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy whips out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, "My friend is dead! What can I do?". The operator says "Calm down. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead." There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says "OK, now what?"

Ah yes, humour…such a divisive thing.
In this Curio we wondered how humour works in communication and is it the best medicine?
This joke was part of a year long experiment by the scientist run Laugh Lab in the UK to discover the world’s funniest joke. 40,000 jokes were submitted and 1.5million consumers voted but why did this one win?
It overcame all the same hurdles that hinder
funny ads working in the advertising domain;
  • It bridged the culture divide
  • It crossed the gender division
  • It is classically amusing, not bowing to any particular time or fashion in humour

THE EVOLUTION OF DANCE follows the universal humour rules and on Youtube is currently:
#1 Most Viewed Video
#1 Most Discussed Video
# 1 Favourite Video of all time

It has now has had more than 86.5m views…!

Humour has a great history in advertising; disarming people with laughter has been an often debated means to win the heart but does the mind follow?
It was David Ogilvy who said that nobody buys from a clown but little did he realise how humour wears many a different guise.
Surprisingly, It’s actually an area that we seem to know quite little about from an advertising effects point of view. How does humour work in advertising?
sometimes it works, makes a whole lot of us favour a product or brand and then often it doesn’t. it seems that one of the biggest problems is that as consumers we are so preoccupied with the entertainment value of the joke, we miss the brand or what those advertising types are wanting us to do… not just like the brand more, but love it and buy it..

It’s no big surprise that it all works best when the brand and it’s benefit is an integral part of the execution and there are some classic examples of when this has worked. The We Love Our Lamb campaign with Sam Kekovic turned around an 18 year decline in lamb sales.
Why did this work?
It’s a damn good rally and cry for Aussies, timed around Australia Day - a patriotic high note for good media planning. It’s a celebration of lamb & 91.5% of the population (who don’t consider themselves a vegetarian) are all invited.
Has anyone not seen the Cadbury Gorilla playing Phil Collins?
Cadbury claim it has increased sales by 8%. Amazing really. There’s no real integration between joke and brand. It’s certainly incongruous which is why it’s funny but how do you account for the results?
A theory I favour comes from Mark Sinnock, the SCO at Fallon London (who incidentally created the ad). He talks of Chris Anderson’s long tail theory applying to great communications. This ad was launched in August 07 and there are 966 related videos on Youtube today. The original ad is now tailed off with a multitude of copycats spoofs which will long continue to celebrate the love of this campaign, a phenomenon which Sinnock references as helping ‘to make ideas more permanent, and help brands establish a more permanent position, inside a persons social world’.
Still, this would have been a post rationalised explanation of a brave road travelled by client and agency and we say bravo for bravery for this is the stuff which sees all stakeholders working towards bold greatness!
All you Bonnie Tyler fans, check out the Gorilla doing Total Eclipse of the Heart
Or for a more academic read, check out Chris Anderson’s site;

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