There are a lot of opinion pieces about the responsibilities we have as advertisers. We need to make the world a better place. Solve the bitterness of recent years. Fight the world’s inequalities, not deepen them.
We’re also faced with increasingly ‘conscious consumers’. They want less packaging. Food made the right way. Ethical companies who don’t steal our data. Non-chlorinated chicken.
Don’t get me wrong. These issues (and loads more) are absolutely our duty. Customers should be able to buy more responsibly. Brands and advertisers need to show we’re on their side. The human race is trashing the planet, and as the spearhead of all that consumption, we have a role to play in sorting it out.
But while all this is important, is it the only route to take?
Finding the fun
Against all this (and the general lack of fun that is January) we have another duty, which is to give people a chuckle. That’s definitely one of my creative resolutions. Everyone needs a break from time to time, and the ads we create can act as little oases of niceness. If you’re clever enough, you can get all the right info under the radar while you do. And maybe even get people to do something.
Of course, lots of brands have been using humour brilliantly for years. Specsavers are the TV classics for me - I loved the woman passionately embracing the wrong husband on the platform, and the naked statue’s appendage that was mistaken for a light switch.
Humour has other uses for creatives, too. Last year, I chuckled a lot at the ‘Who’s Derek?’ ad for Housesimple. Silly, surreal, lovely twist and - crucially - gets all the info in. Bang.
So for our current TV campaign for Motorpoint, the daft one-upmanship of two neighbours helped us include all the key points about mileage, warranty, age of cars and so on that would have been really dry if simply listed in the VO (that’s been proven by the looks of utter disdain I get from my wife as I regurgitate this info now we’re talking about a new car too, but I digress).
Mirth and media
It’s the same for other media. So many radio ads might as well be someone reading out a leaflet. Is that what people want when you’re interrupting their fave tunes? Justify yourself by being funny.
For our recent campaign launching Yeo Valley’s new Natural Top yogurt, we found explaining the product itself a bit confusing, so our radio gently poked fun at it by being a confusing encounter with ‘Daisy’ - an Alexa rip off. The client loved it so much that we turned round two extra spots for the next day. With the press, Stephen Fry picked up on the gentle innuendo too. So that’s nice.
To summarise, advertising absolutely has a role in deciding where we’re going as a society. Giving people anything from a wry smile to full-on lols is one of them.
And push your clients too. We’ve all seen that page in the brand guidelines: “We’re friendly. We’re honest. We’re helpful.” It’s so bloody vanilla. I’d love it if someone’s brand just said, “We’re a bit daft”.