Winning hearts with comedy (Superbowl ads 2021 edition)
We’re big believers in the power of comedy to sway minds, and America’s Superbowl telecast launches some of the biggest comedy ads each year.
So let’s look at the hits and misses served up in last week’s game.
Neighbourhood champions Wayne & Garth shamelessly embrace manipulation in their disarmingly adorable ad about “supporting local” with Uber Eats. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t mention locals losing 30% to Uber from each sale.
Okay, those eyes are freaky. But the relatable dynamics between this couple in a hilariously preposterous situation make it a lovely slow burn. The ad sticks in the brain and subtly engrains Amazon’s helper as part of the family.
The gag per second count in this Seltzer ad might not be high, but the concept is smart, talkable and rooted in the product’s core proposition. And it nails a killer ending, which is key for memorability.
(Side note: have you noticed the Seltzer boom out there? What’s up with that?)
Ashton, Mila and Doritos team up with Shaggy for a redo of his song “It wasn’t me”. This might have scored big with Shaggyheads or fans of That 70s Show, but for us this one’s a miss. The incriminating Cheeto fingers is a great concept. It would sing in a series of short spots. But at 1 minute, it’s drained of flavour.
After 2020, we all feel you, Matthew.
Doritos found a great visual metaphor for their new 3D snack (but dudes, terrible name). The effect borders on icky, but it has a “Did you see…?” quality that’s likely to get friends talking. Add to that a stack of funny sight gags and another top ending, and this is a winner for us.
Of course the other thing these ads have in common is celebrities. That’s not surprising for Superbowl spots. Their big budgets – and big pressure to perform – tend to steer creatives towards star power to help “guarantee” an impact.
But you don’t need big budgets or big stars for comedy to connect in marketing. And if you ever doubt that, just remember this Aussie classic:
So why does comedy work?
We watch and read ads with our defences up. And with good reason – someone’s trying to sell us something, and we’re suspicious of being lied to.
But comedy changes the connection between businesses and audience. It captures our imagination and surprises us. And because our headspace changes to one of being entertained, we momentarily drop our defences. We engage openly with the brand’s message.
It takes wit and effort to create something that does more than “just sell”. But the reward is a genuine emotional connection with your audience. And that’s more powerful and lasting than any list of product features.
Want a funny campaign to win your audience’s hearts? You’ve come to the right place.