What Happened To All The Funny Ads?

And how it affects your station


You’ve probably noticed that there really aren’t very many funny ads on TV any more.

That’s partly because being really funny is really hard.

Lots of ads try to be funny, but as with Morning Show humor, trying and failing is often worse than not trying at all.

Easy comedy is either slapstick or making fun of someone, but I don’t think that plays anymore. We’re definitely in an advertising environment where it is culturally frowned upon to hurt or laugh at other people. Comedy that comes from an insight on society, pointing out things that don’t make sense, calling out inconsistencies, things that just make us laugh at the messed up world we live in, will always be popular. It’s just harder to do so fewer people do it.”

That’s Gerry Graf, founder of the ad agency that bears his name, in a FAST COMPANY interview last year.

The Super Bowl has become known for the ads which run during it, but even there, truly funny ads were missing this year:


Seriously now, did that, or any of the other Super Bowl ads trying to be funny, actually make you laugh?

It feels like most the ads trying to be funny today are just shocking, hoping that shocking is enough to equal viral. It isn’t.


That one, while not really funny, at least has an ending worthy of sharing. Surprise enables the emotional ending of that ad to be effective.

And online sharing, on FB and Instagram, is a big part of measuring an ad’s impact now.

When we were confined to a 15-second or 30-second time limit, comedy was about the best way to go because you didn’t have time to build up a poignant, emotional connection. It’s very hard to be that emotional in 30 seconds, so we automatically went to comedy because it’s a perfectly tight amount of time to land a joke. The minute we started creating these 60-second or two-minute pieces, we had the time to take viewers on an emotional journey. We can pull you in, make you think, make you feel something. That length of time being expanded opened up the door for emotional advertising in a big way.”

That’s Susan Credle, the Global Chief Creative Officer for FCB, another ad agency.

She’s right, and that’s good news for your station.

Rather than buying one of those instantly forgettable music box ads most radio stations run because they’re cheap to produce, and then trying to scrape together enough money to have that ad seen a time or two on your local TV station, spend your money on producing a great 2- or 3-minute ad, an ad that makes you feel something, and post it on YouTube, and your station FB and Instagram pages.

This seems especially easy for consolidated radio to achieve.

Create something really great, something that grabs viewers hearts, because social media gives you the time to do that now, and share the expense across every station in your group, because emotional connection is not about format or city.

It’s about feeling.

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