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Issue: August 1, 2012

Funny business

By: Randi Altman
A agencies have been challenged with finding different ways to hold the attention of an increasingly distracted audience. An audience that is spending less time watching broadcast television and more time on the Web and engaged in social media. 

So it’s no coincidence that I have noticed a trend toward funny, quirky and cute with recent commercial spots. Whether it’s babies talking about stock trading, or two guys in ties busting Mr. Met’s chops about his bad penmanship — he is a team mascot with only four fingers, give the guy with a giant baseball as a head a break.

One of my favorites is for Carnival Cruise Lines which features a couple on a cruise looking out at the ocean while the viewer is given a glimpse at their previous vacation — to an animal preserve where their car is being attacked by a bear and a mountain lion, who are rocking the vehicle as if trying to shake out their next meal. 

The wife is screaming in a panic, while her husband hugs the back of his car seat for dear life, while shouting, “Throw the food out the window! Throw the food out the window!” It makes me chuckle each and every time. Not only is the concept great, but the performances and editing are as well. You can read about this spot in our Cutting Humor feature on page 32.

According to Lauren Connolly, senior creative director at BBDO, NY, “You are seeing more and more comedy because comedy and humor is useful and relevant in the world of social media. Humor really lends itself to sharing, and people to commenting and reposting. People enjoy watching ads on YouTube, which is great for the industry.”

BBDO went for the funny with the Just My Shell Super Bowl spot (pictured) introducing Ms. Brown — who is definitely not naked, BTW. Connolly says  the spot has surpassed 21 million “unofficial uploads,” meaning people are reposting it.

She cautions that not every brand can go funny. “The most important thing is knowing your brand and brand identity, and if humor is a direction you want to go in, make sure that type of humor fits within the brand positioning.”

Connolly also believes that finding the write editor for a comedy spot is just as important as finding the right director and actors. “They bring humor and timing and delivery — all the things that make comedy really difficult.”

She gives a shout-out to Just My Shell’s editor, Maury Loeb from PS260. “We consider him to be another creative in the room, and he brings a lot to those characters and to the humor and finding those moments that will make it sharable.” So keep an eye out.