Creative Creative Works The Drum Chip Shop Awards

Chip Shop judges weigh-in on brands finding comedy in comms


By Amy Houston | Senior Reporter

May 23, 2023 | 7 min read

Top creatives share their thoughts on brands leaning into humor during times that might not be so jovial.

Chip Shop - 01

2022 Chip Shop Awards entry

Celebrating pure creativity is the name of the game for The Drum’s annual Chip Shop Awards. Anything and everything is allowed because the campaigns don’t actually have to have run in the first place. It’s a space to really push boundaries and, often, buttons. But amid the increasingly difficult economic and social circumstances that so many people are facing, should brands still find comedy in comms? It’s a debate many marketers find themselves currently having with their creative agencies.

Last week, the Chip Shop Award judges met to deliberate this year’s entries. We took the chance to gauge their view on how brands should be using comedy in troubled times.

Here’s what they said:

Wayne Deakin, global principal creative at Wolff Olins: “Like any good joke, it has to be the right place, right time and level. That’s hard to do. Sometimes brands are tone-deaf or annoying. If you can succeed and make people laugh, make people forgive you for whatever you’re doing, that’s quite a nice thing in the world.”

Mark Elwood, executive creative director at Leo Burnett: “Humor is incredibly important. We do a lot of humorous work. If you look at McDonald’s ‘Raise Your Arches’, it’s fun work. Communication with humor cuts through. Making the country laugh in an ad break is entertaining. Ads used to be as entertaining as TV programs and that’s what we set out to do.”

Angie Tijam-Tohid, executive creative director at Havas Ortega Group: “Humor is one of the most powerful approaches. Given where we’ve come from the past two years, I think we need to now more than ever. As a person, I love to laugh and make jokes but it’s always a struggle to do it for your work. That can come down to how open brand partners are to that kind of storytelling and approach. Now more than ever we need humor in our stories, it’s a powerful way to connect with our audience.”

Anne Wixley, executive creative director at Wavemaker: “There’s never one size fits all. Every single brief you treat as gold. Joy and humous coming through always works and weather the sun is shining or its raining, metaphorically, it’s part of what keeps the UK moving forward. It’s really important, the spirit of Chip Shop is super important so never stop.”

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Sherina Florence, group creative director at 72andSunny: “During the pandemic all we saw was sad. I felt like I was watching the longest pet adoption, Sarah McLaughlin’s video which lasted an entire year. As we reclaim the culture, our lives and the things that we love it is time to really infuse the work with charm. Humor is a huge part of the UK culture and wit.

“Bringing that sharpness, that cleverness to communication helps people pay attention and have a nice time When you get a joke it makes you feel more intelligent. This is the time for levity, in terms of where we’ve been and where we’re at. Humor can allow us to be really inclusive and poke fun at the things that society says are very serious.”

Lizzy Bilasano, vice-president of creative strategy at Whalar: “Humor is important, especially for where we‘re at as long as it comes from a genuine not disingenuous or malicious place. The point of lightheartedness and humor is not to make a serious dig at someone, be playful and dry but there’s a fine line there. Given where we’re at, there’s a lot going on, and being able to stress test humor across different people is really important. Creatives in the room might think it’s funny but it’s important to ask people that aren’t in the room. Maybe people in another place, country or city."

Alexander Bright, managing director at Audience: “Humour is important in an attempt to be more fun with business. But there are some examples of brands trying to be funny for the sake of it and not resonating with a lot of integrity. When that happens it feels fake and there’s a bit of questioning as to why the brand is doing it. Jumping on bandwagons perhaps, not being that culturally aware. Trying to create a meme for meme’s sake, like you’re trying to force it. Lightheartedness is good and engaging but not to whitewash over what the true message should be.”

This year’s Chip Shop Awards winners will be announced on June 13.

Creative Creative Works The Drum Chip Shop Awards

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