“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.”
More than 150 years after the death of legendary writer Charles Dickens, his words still ring true. In fact, many of the world’s most innovative and creative minds have spoken at length on the role humor has in the human experience. With that in mind, it’s only logical that marketers would try their hand at getting a few laughs with the hope that these laughs might eventually turn into sales.
In this article you’ll find 4 of the funniest marketing campaigns that put humor at center stage. Perhaps the inspiration for your next big effort will be in this list.
1. Betty White Takes the Field
Snickers has a long history of using humor to market their candy bar. If you were to make a list of brands who have brought the most smiles to consumers’ faces over the years, Snickers is undoubtedly going to be near the top.
The campaign we’ll focus on incorporates a national treasure – Betty White (rest in peace, B.W). In the TV spot, which aired during the Super Bowl in 2010, features the timeless comedic actress lining up to participate in a friendly football game between friends. White is meant to represent the alternative persona of “Mike,” who is not playing up to his team’s expectations. The reason? His hunger is making him play like Betty White!
In the end, Snickers saves the day. Betty White takes a bite out of a snickers at Mike’s girlfriends request, and after eating the Snickers, the grandmotherly White disappears with the football player Mike showing up in her place. This particular ad has remained one of the most memorable in the popular series of “you’re not you when you’re hungry” spots the candy brand has run throughout the years.
If there’s a lesson to takeaway from this particular ad campaign, it’s that when you combine a popular collective interest (football) with a timeless American personality (Betty White), the results can’t help but be positive.
2. Mac vs. PC
The competition that we see today between tech giants Microsoft and Apple is nothing new. In fact, the battle has been underway for decades since Mac burst onto the seen in the early 2000s with their colorful, creative-focused machines. How did they differentiate themselves from the well-established PC? They made them the butt of the joke.
If you were born after the year 1997 (roughly) you may not remember the campaign, but the “Hi, I’m Mac” series featuring actor Justin Long was a mainstay on cable television for years. In the ads, a somewhat-dorky man in an unfashionable suit proclaims, “I’m a PC.” After running through his dated set of advantages, his more hip counterpart (Long) appears on stage announcing, “I’m a Mac.” The implication is obvious – Mac is fashionable, forward-thinking, and geared toward younger audiences who don’t want to be using their parents’ technology.
The idea of anthropomorphizing a product isn’t new, but the Mac/PC commercial series is the most memorable in terms of explaining a product’s ‘personality’ when matched up against its industrial competitor. Now, here’s where things get interesting:
In 2021, PC decided it would use Apple’s old tricks while capturing the minds of consumers who were buying their first computers when the spots ran more than a decade prior. They reached back in the archives and hired “I’m a Mac” actor Justin Long to be the spokesman for their new campaign. What should be clear to all is that there’s really one winner in the whole ordeal – Mr. Long.
3. Wieners Run Wild
There are a few universal truths when it comes to advertising. One such law is that any time you put humor and cute animals on the same team, you’re going to get a desirable reaction from your audience. This particular ad campaign was for the King of Ketchup, Heinz.
Obviously, condiments aren’t exactly the most exciting product to market. For one, everybody knows how they work, there’s no “wow” factor, and year after year brands are selling the same product with very little variation. All that means is that marketing teams need to put extra effort toward being creative, and with the spot now dubbed the “Weiner Stampede,” Heinz pulled it off.
The concept is simple enough: what do you put condiments on? Wieners. What’s the most marketable wiener? The dog form!
Dozens of dachshunds, complete with hot dog bun outfits, run through a lush, green meadow toward their owners who are wearing costumes that resemble bottles of ketchup and mustard. It’s a story that practically writes itself, and sometimes those concepts are the best of all. Check it out here.
4. Tweets From the Seat
Charmin, the foremost bathroom tissue brand in the world today, has always had a knack for making toilet humor mainstream and enjoyable for audiences of all ages. From their lovable bears to their cheeky puns (see what I did there), they’re an example of how much fun advertising can be when the right minds are tasked with marketing a relatively un-marketable product.
While this article has primarily focused on television spots, this particular campaign was built for social media – specifically Twitter. Social media advertisers know that generating engagement and obtaining user-generated-content isn’t easy, but Charmin paved the way for their followers with the “#TweetFromTheSeat” campaign.
I’d explain the idea in more detail, but it’s hard to miss the point. Of course not everyone is comfortable sharing their business while doing their business, but Charmin found a way to tap into the minds of its customers on a daily basis.
Building a marketing campaign from the ground up is challenging – whether you’re trying to be funny or not. If your day-to-day involves handling several different aspects of a business, it’s likely that the creative side of your marketing efforts will be put on the backburner…that’s where we come in.
Get in touch today to see how we can help your brand launch an effective ad strategy that works to achieve your goals while staying within your budget.