Humor is one of the hardest things to do well in digital advertising. These nine efforts of 2011 succeeded in a whole range of ways. Take a few minutes and give them a look. It will be good for you to laugh. You see, laughing builds up endorphin levels that help us deal with the stressful situations in our hectic workdays. Better stock up now, you're going to need them today. Because in 10 minutes, you'll be getting a call about how all your click tags are redirecting to the wrong site. Just kidding.
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Axe: Clean Your Balls
No brand stands more erect than Axe when it comes to consistently thrusting itself inside. Our popular culture, I mean. This is a brave brand -- as brave as a Trojan -- with a ménage à trois formula including pretty woman, double entendre, and impeccable comedic timing. Millions stalked this video on YouTube, Yahoo, AOL, and more. "Clean Your Balls" is just another notch on the headboard for this hot playa. But don't expect this campaign concept to last long. Axe's MO is to come and go, scoring new themes, formats, and executional styles while always leaving us wanting more. Let's all hope this brand's edgy character never gets put to bed.
Office Max with JibJab: Elf Yourself 2011
It's simple, customizable, G-rated fun. Every year the action gets better and the tools even easier to use. The Elf Yourself concept is a new Christmas tradition everyone looks forward to. And it makes Office Max come to mind right when people begin to get their holiday shop on. My favorite part of this effort is...no edge or snark required. This is something everyone can enjoy.
TomTom: Bert and Ernie
Driving gadget sales with something other than tech talk -- that's the road TomTom took with this viral campaign. When you're facing a traffic jam of devices and competitors, sometimes it makes sense to change lanes and leave all the performance factoids behind. The new Bert and Ernie voices for TomTom devices put a little fun in the shotgun seat -- at a time when work commutes are getting longer, and people need a little chuckle. Say Chuck + Ull. Chuckle.
Audi: Slide Track
Every day, ads appear in new places. Airline trays. Urinal cakes. Golf balls. Golf cups. Just when you think there is nothing left to use for marketing, along comes a stroke of brilliance. Make the slider into a race car. Who could resist unlocking the Audi magazine delivered in tablet editions of leading magazines! OK, this is more fill-you-with-smiles versus yucks, but it's just too brilliant not to highlight!
The democratization of...well...everything, is perhaps the biggest trend of the last decade. It seems even to be affecting the couture fashion business, if this Lanvin video is any indication. The genius of it is that the clothes continue to be defined by a design elite, but the approachable execution makes the brand more contemporary and relevant. Sort of...exclusively inclusive. Either that or that last sentence was a complete pile of crap. Either way, it's fun to watch models that lack rhythm.
The Last Testament of God: The Tweet of God
Verily I say unto thee -- scratch that. Verily He says unto thee. To support the release of the book "The Last Testament: A Memoir by God," Yahweh and his able acolyte David Javerbaum provide bits of sage wisdom that are at once biblical and hilariously un-PC. Writing a very funny book is one thing, but offering up a stream of consistently funny tweets every day...for weeks...shows a tremendous commitment to Twitter and its power to drive buyers. It's a darned popular Twitter account. Of course, the slogan "Follow God. Or be smited." may have something to do with that.
Jimmy Kimmel Live: Hottie Bodies Humpilates
Millions seek out Jimmy Kimmel's promotional parodies the instant they hit the web. It's a brilliant strategy, because it captures the essence of what makes the show different in a very crowded late night talk show market. And because celebrities need to be good sports to be on the show anyway, Jimmy makes the most of their good nature in these excellent uber viral promos.
This complex and engaging brand experience asks the user to identify the thief of a barrel of Jameson's. What makes 'er inneresting is that the thief is one of your friends, and the game asks you to determine which one by revealing clues based on their Facebook activity . These clues are seamlessly embedded in high quality videos starring eccentric Oirish folk. In addition to the concept and the watchability, the experience also incorporates great little dexterity games. When you identify the crook, the experience goes viral on your Facebook page and that of your criminal friend.
Toddlers and Tiaras: Miss Ultimate Sexy Baby Nevada
Reality TV's biggest train wreck was beautifully spoofed in this parody featuring Tom Hanks and his daughter. Was it an official Toddlers marketing effort? Dunno. But clearly they garnered a lot of cooperation from the pageant circuit for this send up, and I am certain it got more than a million extra people to park their middle-aged rumps on the couch for the season premiere. There are so many superb lines in this masterpiece of tight writing, physical comedy, and spot-on timing. I think the best is when Tom tells his daughter "Don't be a hooch."
Jim Nichols is a marketing and strategy contractor.
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