You can break advertising into dozens of personas and styles, but marketing falls into three genres: sentimental, informational and humorous. Depending on your brand’s products, values and voice, it might capitalize one genre more than the others. Budweiser, for example, captures all three. Its clydesdale commercials are heart-warming and sentimental, its informational commercials cover its brewing process and its humorous commercials range from the Budweiser Frog to the “Wazzup!” guy.
You can argue the merit for all three, but it’s humor that consumers remember. Do a Google search for “best Super Bowl commercials” and almost all of them are funny. Hundreds of companies make the attempt at humor. Some fall flat on their face while others soar. Here are a few brands that use humor masterfully.
Geico started a trend that every car insurance company is now imitating. The famous Geico Gecko was born in 1999, and his antics have been continuing on screen ever since. Geico is known for successful campaigns, such as the cavemen (which had a failed TV show), the hump day camels and various celebrity cameos. With all due respect to Flo, Mr. Mayhem and Jake from State Farm, Geico started it all.
Like Budweiser, Captain Morgan knows how to make a commercial that produces a laugh. Its hilariously wrong-but-ingenious campaign depicts a man skipping his in-law’s wedding for a bar and his friends bailing him out. It’s the kind of commercial guys probably find funnier than the ladies, but anyone watching can’t deny the cleverness of the premise.
Are Mountain Dew’s commercials funny or just plain weird? The jury’s out on that decision, but the brand certainly knows how to produce an ad that leaves you laughing and scratching your head at the same time. Its latest Super Bowl commercial, which combined a pug, a baby and a monkey, freaked some viewers out. But love it or hate it, everyone was talking about the weird ad the next day.
Speaking of weird pugs, Doritos is another brand that capitalizes on strange humor. The running joke is that Doritos, Mountain Dew and Taco Bell should merge into one brand managed by XBox players because their styles are so similar. Doritos has also made its mark on humorous advertising by opening a contest to amateur filmmakers to create a winning ad for the Super Bowl. The winning tone each year? You guessed it: funny.
GoDaddy has toned down its ads since it showed a long, uncomfortable kiss between supermodel Bar Refaeli and an unnamed dork during the Super Bowl, but it still relies on humor to sell its web hosting services. GoDaddy has an unusual advertising story because it bet big on a Super Bowl spot when it was relatively unknown, and it paid off big time. The brand is now one of the biggest providers of domain names and hosting in the world.
The German automaker gets a gold star for making commercials that are both funny and sentimental. The most famous example is its Super Bowl commercial in which a young boy dressed as Darth Vader tries to move objects around the house using the force … and fails each time. That is until one last attempt when he tries to start a Volkswagen Passat with his mind and his father secretly presses the remote start button from inside the kitchen. The boy looks around in wonder thinking he actually used the force. Both cute and funny.