Where’s funny gone?

Christian Finucane
By Christian Finucane | 15 June 2020

Christian Finucane is founder and creative partner at The Core Agency.

If laughter is the best medicine, then perhaps it’s time we as an industry helped raise a smile behind all those ubiquitous masks.

What an opportunity to make creative campaigns fun again and add some real value to people lives – to feel good!

Purpose-driven campaigns have had their day, let’s face its mostly pretty boring stuff. It must research well, you know, in the way that humour doesn’t…

Having now sat through a barrage of ever-so-earnest COVID comms, I think it’s time to ease the restrictions on our thinking and let the creativity run loose.

And as any good laughter therapist knows, laughter releases endorphins that reduce the level of stress in your body and strengthens your immune system!

So, it’s pretty bloody obvious that even government COVID health ads should be funny… Imagine, even the message itself would be protecting people from infection, what could be more prudent in these fiscally challenging times?

If there were some fun games on the COVIDSafe app, more of the population would have downloaded it, getting us all back to ‘normal’ sooner.

Not only is it proven that laughter can reduce negativity, stress and physical discomfort - with a simple advertising overlay, this powerful emotion could also lead to a surge in shopping therapy!

So, it even makes economic sense to add some humour to our comms. Brands get remembered, talked about and bought - saving livelihoods, jobs and entire industries. Saving the economy just like that! Think of all the children we can keep in aftercare…

Attracting the best talent to our industry wouldn’t be a problem anymore either. Suddenly advertising would be top of the list for the budding scriptwriters and artists. Kids realising there’s a productive, creative industry out there, one that doesn’t follow the traditional career paths.

Even better, our amusing ideas could even influence influencers to actually post something actually entertaining. It would be our version of climate action, changing the nation’s atmosphere, so it feels good and upbeat!

Of course, many of the most effective ads of all time are funny, ‘Wassup!’ from Budweiser is a cracker and a big shout-out to their reprise of that in the States last month. The folks at Budweiser understand the power of a smile. Why? Because it opens your mind to a message. It’s a subliminal exchange - you’re lost in the moment of a hoot and wham the brand whips into your mind. Boom, everyone’s happy!

Who can forget the John West ads when the fisherman steals the salmon off the bear, or the Carlton Draft ‘Big ad’? And you don’t need a big budget to be funny, take a look at the American Budget Rent a Car ads from the early 2000s. I defy anyone not to feel good after seeing the jet propulsion pack ad, or the aromatherapy spot – there’s that therapy word again!

A friend of mine from Finland says everyone goes early to the cinema there to see all the ads because they’re so much fun. It is a badge of honour to be the most liked ad. I love that, because the best advertising helps shape culture, it lives in the moment and reflects our values. Something that ‘global campaigns’ simply can’t do because they can’t tap into the zeitgeist. It’s brands saying let’s keep it local, let’s talk the way we talk, we get you. What a bummer all those cinemas were closed for a while…

And now that many of us WFH, spending time in isolation is the perfect time to cheer ourselves up by flexing those creative muscles and writing some happy thoughts for our clients. We can bounce ideas off our families and friends (all my kids have signed NDAs) to raise everyone’s spirits, inspire them to be more creative with their homework and get better grades. The revelation is that thinking laterally could bring them a joyful career.

So, there you have it, what better antidote to Covid-19 than a massive dose of humour?

Come on all you amazing CMOs out there, let your creative departments run wild and demand campaigns that have the power to disarm, chortle and charm. You would be helping make Australia an even better place and perhaps also help turn this recession around – getting products flying off the shelves would make all of us very, very… happy.

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