Here are some of our favorite laughable moments and some of the risks marketers took and the benefits they reaped as a result. And maybe there’s even a lesson or two there for you to use moving forward.
The Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer
While this product certainly has some merit, it’s not its sleek design that put the Hutzler Banana Slicer atop Amazon’s kitchen product category in October. Hundreds of gag product reviews have made the inexpensive piece of yellow plastic the subject of national media attention including mentions in AdWeek and The Huffington Post, not to mention Facebook posts, tweets and YouTube videos. These tongue-in-cheek reviews ranged from a customer who claimed the banana slicer replaced an “old slinky” to others that compared the quality of the invention to the wheel and iPhone. The Canadian company, Hutzler Manufacturing, has not revealed official sales numbers but representatives cite a “considerable jump” in sales. While the company admittedly did nothing to achieve the initial fame, it has embraced the bizarre viral effect by including some of the most memorable reviews in its own social media campaigns. The lesson here is to maximize the opportunity when consumers are laughing with you and make your company an active part of the punchline.
Dollar Shave Club
Riding on the coattails of Old Spice guy fame, DollarShaveClub’s parody video featuring hilarious one-liners in a warehouse setting has garnered over 9 million YouTube views. The fame has helped skyrocket the startup subscription service to notoriety. In November, company CEO (and video star) Michael Dublin revealed that Dollar Shave Club had raised Series A funding in the amount of $9.8 million. Dublin had no way of knowing that his video would have the viral reaction it did, but he did a lot right with his promotional efforts. He was willing to put his face on his product, poking fun at his own personal expense, in order to promote his idea in a humorous way. Besides, as he so aptly puts it in the video, the blades are (insert your own profanity here) great.
Centers for Disease Control
How do you infuse life into a stale emergency kit post from the government’s official expert on disaster preparation? Sprinkle in some zombies, of course. When the Centers for Disease Control posted its original Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse article by Ali S. Khan, the organization likely anticipated a few chuckles. The casual tone and faux-admittance of zombie existence in the blog post are unexpected and witty–two things that make reading it fun. Since it went live in May 2011, the post has been shared 87,000 times on Facebook and tweeted close to 4,000 times. The popularity inspired a lengthier Zombie Pandemic novella, educational posters, and Zombie Social Media campaigns created by the CDC, proving that fame through marketing humor is not limited to inherently funny products or nothing-to-lose startups.
While marketing is often serious business, sometimes a lighthearted approach is the component that can catapult your brand from ordinary to extraordinary. You’ve likely seen your own examples of brands that capitalized on humor with great results—we’d love to hear about the ones that got your attention.
Katie Parsons is a part-time writer for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes in business news affecting major markets, as well as small business marketing. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and the more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.