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Funny or Die? Getting Your Brand Message Out Appropriately


Funny or Die? Getting Your Brand Message Out Appropriately

A book should be just one part of your overall brand message.

You should have other attributes in addition to it. John Wanamaker said “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half.” The reality is, not everyone has the time to read your book.

In addition to the actual message you are trying to convey, you might want to think about how you are conveying it. How are you getting the word out? What is your tone? Is it serious (perhaps too serious)? Or, is it funny? Keep in mind that comedy can sometimes detract from the message.

Jim Cramer, host of CNBC’s Mad Money took a lot of heat during the ‘08 recession. His schtick, as most people know, is way over the top. People were losing money – and in some cases their homes – and this guy was cracking jokes and acting goofy about finances. Cramer, whose job description is to help people make money, was yukking it up as the stock market was tanking. Many saw that as adding insult to injury.


Have you ever noticed that some commercials are (or try to be) funny, yet people remember the humor – but not the product? While laughter can help people let down their defenses – which makes them more receptive to learning – sometimes it makes sense to hold off on the humor. It depends on the context and the product being advertised.

The social video website Funny or Die, founded by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, has become one of the go-to websites for companies that want their brand out there. Organizations like Under Armour, PepsiCo and Denny’s, for example, have gotten plenty of mileage out of skits where they have been featured, overtly or not.

In this era of social media, Funny or Die helps organizations get exposure – and in many cases their message goes viral. When this happens, the beneficiaries reached a wider audience.

GEICO has some very clever ads. And they seem to be ubiquitous. One of the things that makes them funny, however, is that no one commercial seems overexposed. Because they have so many of them, which they manage to mix up regularly, the humor doesn’t seem to wear off. They’re not like a pop song, where you know all the words and someone sings them off-key. That annoys people. When that happens, the song (or the brand) loses its mystique.



If you have a product that is very serious – like money or, in this instance, funerals – you might want to stay away from humor. If you want your brand to evolve, make sure you don’t rub people the wrong way in the process – unless that is your strategy. If it is, strap on your seat belt. Being provocative CAN work – you just have to be willing to endure the animosity.

Brand awareness is basically about eyeballs and word of mouth. If you can get your message out there in a favorable light, without seeming too commercial or crass, you will hold a certain place in the mind of the consumer.

As Jean-Philippe Maheu, chief digital officer at Ogilvy North America says, “Ultimately, brands need to have a role in society.”

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