MyStoryYourStory: Let’s not go putting labels on people

“Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious.” – Peter Ustinov

It’s hard for me to admit it, but I’ve been smitten by TV commercials since I was 13. Back then, I bought a blue glass jar of Noxzema because I believed it would make my face silky soft and zit-free like the beautiful blond in the TV ad, which it did not.

Paula Damon

Paula Damon

Don’t get me wrong – I buy every product that grabs my attention on the tube. But I’m really intrigued by the power of TV advertising, and I can be very entertained by clever and creative ads.

Like the tireless commercials by Cotton Incorporated themed “the touch, the feel of the cotton – the fabric of our lives.” Variations of this ad have been running for more than 20 years. Granted, cotton ads today are different from their counterparts two decades ago, but their brand appeal is just as powerful.

What captures my attention most are ads that make me laugh.

Have you seen the “Sprint Unlimited My Way” commercial? It features a creepy funny zombie in a suit. Inside a Sprint store, the zombie, spewing scary sounds, awkwardly approaches a sales clerk about the Sprint for life plan.

With a nervous jittery tone, he says, “I wanted to find out about the “Sprint Unlimited for Life Guarantee.”

Not budged by the fact that she’s talking to zombie in a suit, the clerk responds with a canned spiel about the plan.

And then the zombie takes it a bit further by asking. “What if you were technically not alive? Maybe you were undead?”

“Like a zombie?” the clerk asks.

When the zombie replies with, “Whoa, let’s not go putting labels on people,” I crack up, and I am not at all into zombies. What’s more, I’ve seen this ad more than dozen times and laugh every time.

Better yet, I remember the product, and I’m talking about it. The only thing left is for me to do is purchase the Sprint plan and the power of TV advertising has totally achieved what all successful commercials are supposed to do – alter consumer behavior.

Personally, I think Sprint’s zombie ad is so humorous and at the same time endearing is because he captures the universal awkwardness we all feel when approaching a sales clerk. It “makes funny” how seriously out of place we feel trying to explain what we need and ask for something we are not we want.

With so many ways viewers can skip TV ads, humor in advertising is more important today than ever before. According to “Humor Appeals in Advertising: When Do They Work,” advertisements today must prevent us from channel surfing or fast-forwarding through programs to avoid commercials. TV commercials have to be super interesting – enough to hold our attention and crazy funny to make us remember them.

Plain and simple, amusing ads give us enjoyment; leave us feeling good and those good feelings rub off onto the brand. And then the multiplier effect kicks in and we talk about funny commercials, as I am here, which in turn reinforces the brand.

What is it about humorous TV ads that make us tirelessly repeatedly watch them and effective sales reps at the same time? Basically, they are light-hearted, not upscale, poke fun at themselves – not others, and the humor and brand messages are integrated.

Like the new “You know you love it!” series of commercials for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, where a super-serious kid catches his parents and their friends in the act of eating his beloved mac and cheese. Look, who hasn’t swiped a fork full of that golden, deliciously creamy staple from their kid’s plate. A big deal for the kids – not so much for the adults.

As journalist Christopher Morley once put it, “Humor is… an awareness that some things are really important, others not; and that the two kinds are most oddly jumbled in everyday affairs.”

So if you’re having a bad day, watch some funny ads and laugh on.



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