Thursday, August 2, 2007

Dead funny


Serious issues require serious ads. It’s a given. Or is it?

Until recently nearly all public service ads looked the same. Smoking ads always showed guts, diseased organs, or very sick people. Road safety ads always started with a normal drive that ended in a smash. When it comes to public health we creatives are not very creative.

That’s what I thought, until recently. Then I noticed 2 very different, but quite funny ads …. for serious issues.

The first launched a week ago in Australia for the RTA. The tradition is to tell young men they are acting dangerously by driving carelessly. It’s waste of time. Young men drive carelessly BECAUSE it’s dangerous.

The RTA decided that a far better way to cut through to this target was to imply that ‘hoon’ behaviour is indicative of having a small penis. Their agency borrowed a gesture that exists in the real world: the device is a waved pinkie that symbolises the driver’s inadequate masculinity.

The second humorous ad I stumbled across is a fund-raiser from the UK.

British comedian, Bob Monkhouse, was resurrected (pardon the pun) for an anti cancer commercial.

The twist?

Bob died of prostate cancer 4 years ago. Yet there he is cracking jokes as he asks for donations. He even looks at his own grave.

It’s a well-crafted mix of historical footage, new close-ups and hand shots, and a ‘sound-alike’ voice over. See Bob back from the dead here.

Both campaigns work because they do more than state the message. They use comedy to smash through the usual doom and gloom that is expected in this category. They break through the ‘noise’ and traditional ways of doing things.

Too many ads have a message but fail to cut through the noise: the noise of competitive brands and the noise of consumer apathy.

Will ‘small penises’ or ‘dead comedians’ cut through the noise?

They have with me.

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