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Funny and Weird Ads: Why They Work

It’s every advertiser’s dream to create a viral video that gets plastered over Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ (ha, yeah, because people care about G+). As we’ve discussed in previous posts, the chances of getting an ad to go viral are pretty low – you’re much better off creating educational or how-to videos that will gain a steady stream of visitors over time.

What about the 1% though? Those ads that practically promote themselves? One thing seems clear – most of them are utterly hilarious. Not just funny, but odd, quirky, and even downright bizarre. Today we’re looking at some of the weirdest, wackiest ads online, and examining why they are successful.

PooPourri: Before-You-Go Toilet Spray

This video was what inspired this post – I was dying to share this ridiculously oddball ad.

This video ad is very clever, but also so convincing! It has you wonder how you’ve survived all these years without PooPourri. So, what makes this ad work? Why did it reach over 9 million views after only 2 weeks on YouTube? I have some ideas…

  • It Appeals to Our Base Immaturity: We’re all middle school boys at heart, and poop will always be hilarious. It may even be too funny – in the ad they have to make a point of announcing that it is, in fact, a real product, and that no, it’s not a joke.
  • Taboo Topic: Let’s face it, it’s not every day you watch an ad about fecal matter. Bowel movement discussions are reserved for the elderly and perhaps very intimate friends. To throw it all out in the open is extreme, and as an audience, we just can’t look away!
  • There’s Something Familiar: The female British character feels oddly familiar. Perhaps she reminds you of…

Another ad about being “fresh!” Coincidence? Maybe. However, the whole idea of having a cute British woman promoting something as menial as gum or lavatory potpourri is familiar, and perhaps that familiarity provides a small bit of comfort for what is, in some ways, a truly strange and foreign advert.

The presentation format of the Poopourri ad, featuring a spokesperson directly engaging with audiences, is also reminiscent of another popular funny ad that achieved momentous success on YouTube…

Dollar Shave Club Funny YouTube Ad

Why Do Folks Like the Dollar Shave Club Ad?

  • Random Humor: The Dollar Shave Club ad utilizes the same kind of random comedy that makes Family Guy popular – the unexpected, oddball, out-of-nowhere elements bring a sense of hilarity.
  • Long Shots: There are quite a few long shots in this ad as the announcer walks towards the camera, or with the camera following the speaker. The continuous movement helps keep viewers’ attention and builds anticipation.

Both the Dollar Shave Club and PooPourri humorous advertisements come in succession to the Old Spice ads, which feature a nearly identical style. We could spend the whole post talking about the incredible Old Spice marketing campaign, but it’s already discussed quite a bit in our YouTube Advertising Guide.

Moon Cup vs. Tampon Rap Battle

To continue with our bathroom theme, here’s another odd but informative ad detailing the advantages of using a menstrual cup as opposed to tampons. I know, sorry dudes, but denial won’t protect you.

  • Taboo Topic (Again): Any whisper of a woman’s bodily functions tends to be considered taboo. Similar to PooPourri, the mere shock value will get people talking about this ad.
  • Music: The mini rap battle really is funny, and people just can’t resist a good song. Even when it’s about the beloved women’s curse. A song can make even the most serious topics seem light-hearted and fancy-free. Have you ever tried to sing about lost puppies? Drowning polar bears? What about dying tragically like this YouTube hit…

Kmart’s Ship My Pants

This funny video ad highlights that tingly sensation you get when you…

  • Pun Intended: Great play on words!
  • Unexpected (Especially Considering the Source): This kind of humor seems really out of left field coming from Kmart, but it’s a pleasant surprise. It’s cool to see Kmart experimenting with its marketing approach. Kudos to the bold and brave!

Do you have any wacky weird YouTube ads that stand out for you? Why do you think they work well as advertisements? Let us know in the comments!

Next let’s move on to funny PPC ads. And yes, they do exist!

Funny PPC Ads: Are We Laughing With You or at You?

There are two types of “funny PPC ads” – the ones that are funny because they are utterly disastrous, and those that earn a chuckle for their cleverness and ingenuity. The former are plentiful, while the latter are in short supply.

bad ppc ads Funny and Weird Ads: Why They Work

Don’t you just hate paying full price for children?

The ad above is funny, but for all the wrong reasons. This is just a plain old bad PPC ad. To check out more fail-worthy PPC advertisements, read our post about eBay’s truly terrible PPC ads.

What about the PPC ads that are genuinely funny? Traditionally there is little room for humor in PPC ads. Literally, there just isn’t the physical space – with only 130 characters (less than a tweet!), it’s hard to promote your product or offering while simultaneously showcasing your wit.

That’s not to say it’s impossible. Check out this PPC ad from the Braille Bookstore.

funny ppc ad Funny and Weird Ads: Why They Work

Here we’ve got a lot of winning elements that we already discussed, including:

  • Pun: Products you’ve never seen before. Because…..you’re blind.
  • Taboo: Making jokes about the blind community is somewhat taboo. Especially when they’re your main customer! Maybe it’s all in good fun?

The format of the PPC ad makes this humor even more impressive – it’s really rare to see a truly funny PPC ad, and it takes planning to deliver a punch line like that in a PPC ad. To top it all off, the ad is subtle enough that you have to wonder if the joke is even intentional…

weird ppc ads Funny and Weird Ads: Why They Work

This one is more creative than funny, but still worth calling out. Royal Pingdom claims that this ad had a 47% increase in CTR! Now that’s nothing to laugh at.

silly ppc ad Funny and Weird Ads: Why They Work

The site I found this World of Warcraft PPC ad on had this ad labeled as one of the “lamest PPC ads ever” but I thought it was actually pretty clever. Hey, know your audience, right?

Ingenious Image Ads

Continuing with our funny theme, we’ve also got some funny image ads. Why are image ads so popular? Images grab attention more powerfully than text, and familiar brands don’t need a ton of space to explain their product – as the Dothraki would say, it is known.

The prevalence of online space and online content supplementing in-print ads means that some advertisers, even those that aren’t so well known, would rather use print space to capture attention with a powerful image. Then users can simply direct viewers to a information-heavy website via a suggested URL or QR code.

Here are some favorites borrowed from Buzzfeed.

Girls rule and boys drool

funny print ads 637x454 Funny and Weird Ads: Why They Work

The mighty hunter.

funny image ad 637x326 Funny and Weird Ads: Why They Work

Oh I get it. Wait, no I don’t. OK, now I do…

funny commerical ads 637x450 Funny and Weird Ads: Why They Work

You do have to go right now.

funniest advertising campaigns 637x163 Funny and Weird Ads: Why They Work

You may notice that a lot of the image ads above are somewhat juvenile. Not to say that a video about poop belongs in the New Yorker, but there is a cleverness you don’t see represented in many of the above print ads.

Limited space means that advertisers are responsible for capturing the most intense emotion possible in the least amount of time. Often times the easiest way to do this is through humor, with laughs as unsophisticated as Helen Keller jokes. Not classy, not witty, but gosh darn-it, they do make us laugh.

I hope you enjoyed this brief examination of the funny ads of our time. Maybe some of these wacky ads inspired some funny, creative ideas of your own?

As always, if you have some insight to add, please comment! We’d love to hear your opinion on these unusual advertisements.

This post originally appeared on WordStream, and is reprinted with permission. 

 Funny and Weird Ads: Why They Work

Megan Marrs

Megan Marrs is a blogger and copywriter at WordStream, where she writes for the marketing department. She is a regular contributor to the WordStream Internet Marketing Blog, where she covers topics including social media, web news, SEO techniques, content marketing, link building, and search marketing, among others.
 Funny and Weird Ads: Why They Work

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2 thoughts on “Funny and Weird Ads: Why They Work

  1. Thanks for sharing this! All good ads.

    I never saw the Mooncup vs Tampon commercial, but I thought that was pretty well done. Same for the PooPouri commercial. I agree if you make the commercials fun to watch, they’re much more likely to be seen and shared by thousands if not millions of people.

  2. Thanks for a good article. They are all intelligent Ads and make me laugh a lot, especially the World of Warcraft Ad. The purpose of these ads is to get customer to pay more attention to them. How many people will click to them instead of normal ones? I will click first :)