Should Your Next Ad Be Funny Or Bash Your Competitor?
You don't require a TV to see a commercial these days. Thanks to the Internet, commercials can now be e-mailed, shared on Facebook and tweeted about - all potentially resulting in millions of additional views.
To receive more views and a lasting impression, companies are competing in this advertising arms race. Two tactics have risen to the top.
Funny commercials are no longer limited to the four hours of the Super Bowl - more companies are creating hilarious ads, with hope that these clips will go viral.
It's not complicated. The "It's Not Complicated" campaign from AT&T began almost a year ago and people anxiously wait for the newest commercial. Four kids surround Beck Bennett and discuss why faster is better, or unrelated topics like the biggest number they can think of (infinities times infinity - in case you didn't know).
The AT&T YouTube channel has 18 of these commercials, many with more than 1 million views. The ads themselves are not complicated - they're funny and make it obvious that faster and more coverage is better.
Jump program. T-Mobile reminds us that "two years is too long to wait" for a new cell phone. Their campaign with SNL's Bill Hader premiered this past summer with the introduction of the "Jump" program.
Hader goes through the many struggles of having an old phone, such as soaking up the water by placing it in a container of rice or having it sat on (and the screen cracked) at the bus stop. Each situation that Hader endures is something we've all been through (admit it - you've dropped your phone in the toilet), making the ad not only funny, but relatable. It leaves a lasting impression.
Halloween and football season. Verizon has joined the comedic competition with both its wireless and FiOS services. A timely Halloween commercial shows a Star Wars characters-dressed family using their Verizon service to find the biggest candy bars and to figure out which houses to avoid (i.e. the dentists' house with floss instead of treats). Their #fiosfootballgirl commercial targets NFL fans, telling the story of a left out sister who uses technology to learn about football and eventually joins Terry Bradshaw as a commentator.
Verizon's videos have not gone viral like AT&T's, but perhaps a continued campaign could help the cell phone and Internet service provider.
Dodge Durango, starring Ron Burgundy. Dodge Durango has recently recruited the one and only Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell in Anchorman) to star in about 70 commercials. Anchorman 2 hits theaters in December, so the timing and collaboration is brilliant.
The manly movie and manly truck combination have already gone viral - in five days, there were more than 3.5 million views. For this campaign, timeliness, comedy and a celebrity all play a key role in the videos' success.
Bashing the Competition
While some companies are choosing this comedic tactic, others find success using commercials to bash their competitors.
Less talking, more doing. Microsoft, who hasn't had the greatest success selling tablets, has an advertising campaign comparing its tablets to Apple iPads and uses Siri to mock the brand. Although iPads typically receive much better reviews than the Windows 8 tablets, Microsoft makes it pretty convincing that their products are better and more affordable.
One ad shows the Acer Iconia W3, which you can use to play Halo and get on Microsoft Office. Siri, on the other hand, can only read on the iPad Mini (except we all know you can do a lot more than read on the iPad Mini) and the iPad is $100 more than the Windows tablet.
On the "less talking, more doing" original commercial, Siri offers to play "Chopsticks" on a piano app while the Microsoft tablet is doing more important tasks, like using PowerPoint - again, for a fraction of the price.
The next big thing is already here. Similarly, Samsung attempted to bash Apple's iPhone with its "the next big thing is already here" commercials. The campaign gained popularity when the iPhone 5 was coming out - making a joke out of the fact that people stand in line for days for these Apple improvements, like 4G (which the Samsung Galaxy S3 already had). On a later commercial, at a graduation party, the attendees compare all the perks of the S4 to the iPhone 5.
Which Method is Better?
It's hard to say which method or which campaign is most successful - it's like comparing apples to oranges. Both tactics have had great success, however, ultimately bringing in more brands to compete in this advertising arms race.
This guest article was written by Sam Melton.