For all the time marketers spend developing brand strategies, identifying their target audiences, and honing meticulous messaging around their products, there's still something to be said for a good old-fashioned fart joke. Timed and executed correctly, a good fart joke will make them laugh in a memorable way. Time and execute it poorly, and you'll clear the room.
Immaturity has its place in marketing and advertising. Everyone loves to let out a guilty little giggle once in awhile. But immaturity in marketing also manifests in other not-so-amusing ways in the form of insensitive jokes and unintended messages.
In this article, we'll take a look at both fails and wins with immaturity. Let's start with the fart jokes, shall we?
Should you brand employ toilet humor? There is a quick test to find out. Ask the person who runs your social media to visit this "Fart Soundboard" page. Did they laugh? No? Then you're not ready for fart jokes. You see, you have to truly believe in your fart of farts that flatulence is funny. But as long as you are immature like me and the rest of the internet, then join me in my quest for more farts in social media. Here are a few ripping examples.
Samsung baby fart
This ad speaks to me as a dad the same way it must speak to a lot of dads out there. Babies aren't easy. Swaddling is hard. And YouTube has averted baby-related catastrophes for me time and time again. The joke in the Samsung video is that once you've wrapped your baby in the most perfect, award-winning swaddle ever, your baby is going to shit himself. Happens every time. The content of the video is sweet and honest, and the punchline is a fart. Good work, Samsung.
Ontario Health Ministry
The Ontario Health Ministry produced this sketch comedy video about a young woman who likes to fart -- but only socially. After we observe a series of awkward, fart-laden social situations, the Ontario Health Ministry reminds us that the idea of social farting is every bit as silly as social smoking. The ad is funny because farting in front of lots of people in social situations is not normally a welcome behavior. Just ask every person I have ever worked with. But increasingly (especially in Southern California) smoking in public is also no longer an option either legally or socially. By comparing smoking to farting, the hope is that the viewer will consider for a moment that social smoking is considered by many to be just as socially unacceptable as farting.
Lest you think every commercial with a fart in it is destined for greatness, take a look at this 2004 Budweiser Super Bowl commercial featuring a flatulent horse. The ad still consistently appears on lists of "worst Super Bowl ads." Instead of delivering a laugh, the ad crossed the line into disgusting, and the humor itself was already a tired joke.
So fart carefully, my friends.
Confusion regarding sexiness
Unsexy things pretending to be sexy -- or sexy things mixed with unsexy things -- can deliver a hearty and completely immature laugh. But the humor can also flop in a big way. The trickiest part about this type of humor is that, like many things, it's all in the eye of the beholder. If you want to go this route, expect to alienate someone -- and just hope the laughs you do get are loud enough to drown out the complaints.
At least a couple of brands are making a career out of this brand of juvenile humor.
Hot chicks in bikinis? Advertising win. Although you're sure to offend a sizeable section of the public, you probably don't care. If you're putting chicks in bikinis in your commercials, you probably know who is -- and who isn't -- your target audience. However, hot chicks in bikinis eating mayo-laden fish sandwiches? A bit riskier.
Carl's Jr. doesn't care what you think of this commercial. It's been pulling this same bit for nearly a decade, so obviously something is working.
GoDaddy (of course)
GoDaddy lives for immaturity -- mainly in the form of shamelessly scantily clad ladies. And, like Carl's Jr., it doesn't care what you think. However, the brand did seek to one-up itself with a gross-out twist during this year's Super Bowl:
As you might imagine, reactions were mixed. And GoDaddy, which was swimming in money Scrooge McDuck-style after the ads aired, still doesn't care.
If you're not ready to play in the realm of fart jokes and questionably sexy situations, don't underestimate the power of immature wordplay. Remember when you were six years old and your friend told you to hold your tongue and repeat the phrase "pirate ship" over and over? Comedy gold!
Well, the same tactic works in advertising. Just ask:
Kmart's clever yet immature campaign is based on two phrases: "big gas savings" and "ship my pants." You see where this is going:
The humor is simple and completely juvenile -- and it works. Kudos to the brand for extending the joke further with the #ShipMyPants and #BigGasSavings hashtag campaign. Hell, the brand even made T-shirts.
Deep-seeded immaturity in marketing
Fart jokes, silly sexiness, fun with dirty words -- these are all very conscience decisions that brands make when infusing their campaigns with some immaturity. But some marketing is immature quite unintentionally -- and these are the campaigns that deserve the real criticism.
Consider, for example:
Enough already with the "men are idiots" commercials. (Granted, Discover is only one of many, many offenders. But this one is particularly grating.)
This trend might have been funny when it began, but that was way before I was born. It's downright offensive at this point. Brands that are still making this tired joke are lazy.
London Luton Airport
Every marketer probably feels a little sympathetic for any brand that faces a social media shitstorm as a result of one rogue employee. (I'm looking at you, Chrysler. And you, Kitchen Aid.)
But seriously, brands. Social media is mature enough now that these incidents shouldn't be occurring at the rate that they do -- or at brands the size that they are. When they do occur, you look decidedly immature.
I'm picking on London Luton Airport here because its epic Facebook faux pas was not the case of an employee thinking he or she was logged into a personal account. Rather, this little gem -- which made fun of a plane crash in which a child was killed -- was an intentional post by an employee of quite questionable judgment.
I might have just lumped this one in with other general social media fails, rather than a sign of immaturity, had it not been for the "Weeeee :)"