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3 Hilarious Marketing Campaigns and What You Can Learn from Them

hilarious marketing campaigns

When you are serious about attracting customers, what should you do? Make ‘em laugh, of course! And we don’t mean that you should make them chuckle, snicker or giggle softly – oh no – we mean you should make them “spit milk through their nose when they laugh” funny!

Comedy is a key element of the most successful marketing campaigns throughout history. Silent movie funnyman, Buster Keaton, made several humorous ads for Alka Seltzer, Milky Way candy bars, Ford vehicles and even beer. In the years to follow, consumers laughed their way through the purchasing process after being told to “Squeeze the Charmin,” “Leggo my Eggo” and asked “Where’s the beef?” Target audiences also responded wildly to funny advertising brought to us by the three amigos, “The Most Interesting Man in the World,” the Old Spice man and the Geico caveman.

Because they are successful, funny ads have been an advertising mainstay in print, movie trailers, radio and television. Today’s marketers are also taking their campaigns to the internet to attract clients. Modern marketers study successful campaigns of the past and apply the lessons they learn to their own advertising and content marketing strategies.

Here are three of the funniest marketing campaigns, and the lessons each provides.

3 Riotous Marketing Campaigns

 “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry”

Snickers introduced their “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign during Super Bowl XLIV in 2010. In this campaign, eating a candy bar turns a grumpy celebrity into a “better” version of a normal person.

The lesson: Apparently, getting people to laugh at themselves when they are their crabbiest is an effective marketing strategy. The parent company, Mars, Incorporated, won several awards for the hilarious campaign. More importantly, though, Snickers had been losing market share to other chocolate treats and the celebrity campaign got people talking about the candy bar. In fact, campaign sparked Snickers’ most successful period of growth, boosting sales by 15.9 percent in a single year and increasing its global market share by $376.3 million. That’s a sweet return!

Is it Blue and Black or White and Gold?

After funnyman Robin Williams told students to “seize the day” in the 1989 hit movie Dead Poets Society, carpe diem became the mantra of the nation for years to come. Because of the internet, the world moves much faster in the 21st century and there really isn’t time to seize an entire day. Instead, advertisers must embrace the phrase occupandi temporis and seize the moment.

The internet lost its collective mind when Scottish singer Caitlin McNeill posted a photo on Tumblr of a dress that was blue and black or white and gold, depending on whose eyes you use. Within a split second, Dunkin’ Donuts seized upon the momentary conversation by posting pictures of delicious donuts decked out in blue over black and white over gold frosting. Lego posted pictures of their toys wearing blue/black and white/gold plastic dresses, while a laundry detergent company noted that the conundrum “looks like a problem when you don’t use Tide Plus Colorguard.”

The lesson: If you are going to jump on the meme du jour, though, you had better do it fast. Accelerated by the information superhighway of the internet, American culture moves much faster than it did 30 years ago, so marketers must seize the moment when it comes to advertising. Introducing a marketing campaign based on McNeill’s 2015 Tumblr post now would probably be about as effective as standing on a school desk and shouting Walt Whitman poems.

Anheuser-Busch: Whassup?!

The beer company rocked the advertising world in 1999 by answering one question with another in a single word: “Whassup?!” The series of commercials features a group of friends connecting on a group phone call while drinking beer and watching the game on TV. Each friend who entered the call yelled, “WHASSUP!?” instantly creating a catchphrase that rattled advertising for the next few years.

The lesson: The main lesson here is that a campaign can be silly and informal – you do not have to ruffle feathers to be successful. Genuine humor, even humor that celebrates your customer’s unique oddities, may often sell more products than edgy comedy. The ad also reminded us why we don’t do group calls anymore.

Incorporating comedy into your marketing campaign can be successful, but it is not always easy. For best results, consider hiring a comedy writer who understands marketing. Creating a funny marketing campaign for television, radio or the internet can attract attention and improve your bottom line.

And you don’t even have to make them spit milk through their nose. Unless you are selling paper towels, that is.


Lynn H has been a professional writer, providing exceptional content online and offline, for nearly 20 years. In that time, she has penned thousands of articles for doctors, universities, researchers, small businesses, nursing organizations, sole proprietors and more. She writes everything from blogs to white papers; her specialty is putting complex scientific concepts in simple terms. She specializes in medical writing, creating informative and engaging content for professionals in medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, medical manufacturing, chiropractics, optometry, emergency care, plastic surgery and others.

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Freelancer Lynn H

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