Once upon a time, people thought there was nothing funny or exciting about insurance.
Then Geico came along.
They changed the insurance game with simple commercials using humor and wit.
My favorite Geico spot is their Make Good Choices horror ad:
Notice how they don’t need to insert their name or what they do at the beginning of the commercial.
They don’t feed you lines about why they’re the best insurance choice.
Facts? NOPE. Zero. Zero facts.
They don’t even give you any benefits.
And they don’t need to, because the commercial is THAT entertaining.
They took an unexciting subject (insurance) and juxtaposed it with a stereotypical horror movie parody.
This ad has been viewed hundreds of millions of times, and we still love it.
It’s become a classic. An October tradition.
That commercial first aired in 2014.
I’m sitting on the couch, day 2 of October 2021, and guess what comes on TV?
Did I watch it? You’re damn right I did.
Geico uses a simple but powerful concept: Take something traditionally normal or “boring,” and show us why it is anything but.
Make it bizarre. Twist our brains and show us that nothing is as it really seems.
When you shine an unusual light on a common product, when you look at the every day from a new perspective, you can turn the ordinary into extraordinary.
Ordinary = forgettable.
Extraordinary = memorable.
Finding the surreal in the everyday is a classic comedy technique.
Kyle Kinane is a standup comic who uses this technique well. He once sat next to a man on a plane who ate pancakes out of a bag. Most people might see that, think “huh” and go on with their day. But not Kyle. Kyle sees a man on a plane eating pancakes out of a bag and it de-rails his life.
If you were on a plane sitting next to a man eating pancakes out of a bag, how would you tell that story to your friends?
“I saw a dude eating pancakes out of a bag.”
Great story, Hemingway.
Kyle saw a dude eating pancakes out of a bag, and he had questions.
What were the decisions that led up to this moment?
What would cause a person to behave that way?
What crazy circumstances converged to create this bizarre outcome? This is not just a man munching sack flapjacks. This is a crazy person.
Nothing is really as it seems.
The SNL skit “Papyrus” became a huge hit using the ordinary-to-extraordinary technique.
They took a small, innocuous detail – the logo font from the Avatar movie – and created a dramatic story around it.
An absurd, hyper-exaggerated mini-movie:
It is a skit about a FONT, and it sits at over 16 million views on Youtube.
Nothing is really as it seems.
The writer of the Papyrus skit, Julio Torres, is a human meme. Surreal humor is his superpower. He presents us with something we think is normal and makes it fantastical, stripping away everything we thought we knew:
Because nothing is really as it seems.
Another commercial that masters the ordinary-to-extraordinary technique is Chaindrite Termite Spray.
Spraying for termites has always been advertised in a straightforward, traditional way. “You got termites? We got termite spray. Buy our shit, you’re welcome.”
But the Thai pest control company took a different path.
They went balls-to-the-wall nuts with an action-drama-comedy short film about how effective their product is:
You guys. Nothing has to be dull. If your commercials make people flatline out of boredom, it’s YOUR fault.
And I KNOW you’ve seen those Harmon Brothers commercials about a bathroom poop stool,
and deuce perfume
None of those products were inherently interesting, yet their ads have been enjoyed hundreds of millions of times.
“But Asia! We is not Harmon Brothers! We is poor!”
Just because you have a flaccid ad budget doesn’t mean you can’t go hard.
These businesses went the opposite way to cultivate a Napoleon-Dynamite thrift-shop aesthetic:
Sometimes all you need is a simple home video and some creative audio dubbing:
(Well hello, 42 million views.)
This guy made tongue scrapers go viral with just $500:
Did you know trailer homes could be honest AND entertaining?! :
Never have I been more excited about turtle food:
Who knew shooting could be so fun!:
No budget? No problem! Just git yerself an out-there accent:
Take your furniture store from bunk to funk:
Think you don’t need a self-driving antelope? Think again:
These ads took unsexy products and made them exciting, hilarious, and different.
If they can do it, you can do it.
Remember, if your ads are lame, you have yourself to blame.
If you prefer to focus on running your business instead of racking your brain for off-the-wall creative ideas, then good for you! We’re happy to help you spend more time doing what you do best. Creativity is our superpower. Give us a call if you need some juice.
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