Does comedy sell? And if it doesn’t quite cut the comedy mustard, is it a case of “any publicity is good publicity”? While I don’t watch TV for the commercials (although actually being paid to be in one is a totally different matter and always welcome), there are currently a couple of ads on Australian TV that make me smile. And it has nothing to do with my actually knowing the lead actors in both ads. Well, not really. Well, okay, it probably does 😉 .
The first one is the “Call Jason” ad for RACV Insurance. Anyone who lives in Melbourne (VIC, Australia) will have seen “Jason” grinning at them from over-sized billboards all over town (see screen shot below). Yes, he’s the one who takes the mick out of his fellow co-workers about how much money they’ve saved various RACV customers on their insurance.
Love it or hate it, it seems to be doing the trick promotion-wise. Which is the whole point, obviously. I think it’s funny, but then, I’m biased because, yes, I do know the lead actor and appreciate the work all the actors are doing in that commercial (I also know Jessie Wei who also appears in the ad and “saved a bloke in Sale $147 dollars”). As for the lead character – “Jason”? That would be the one and only Nathan Strauss, a good friend of mine and talented actor who will soon be seen in the film “Why Must The Show Go On?” (which I co-wrote and executive produced) as the earnest and naive “Scott” later this year (more on that once post-production is finished).
If you have no idea what ad I’m referring to and want to see it in it’s entirety, go here and click on “insurance commercial december 2008”.
The other ad is, funnily enough, also for an insurance company – CGU. It’s the “Bill the Alpaca Farmer” ad and it’s hilarious. It seems that YouTube viewers feel the same way – it’s got over 40,000 views since being uploaded in March and received universally positive comment. And in a recent bizarre twist, fans of the ad have banded together to create a Facebook Fan Group called “Bill the Alpaca Farmer from the CGU ads” (currently at 279 members). And yes, again, I know the actor – that’s the fabulous Don Bridges who is a fixture in the Australian acting community and someone I have enormous respect for (and even more so now that I’ve heard him rap about Alpacas!)
Here’s the ad for those who might have missed it (although it will continue to air on TV until June):
Hahaha! I love it!
It is interesting that both these ads are aiming for comedy, but when I ran a quick poll amongst my colleagues – everyone could say that “Jason the Call Center Guy” was an ad for the RACV, whether they laughed at it or not (the product and the ad were very much linked), but “Bill The Alpaca Farmer”, despite a universal love for it, caused them to stop and think for a moment before they could name the company the ad was for. In some cases, they couldn’t remember at all.
Which brings up the question about clever/funny advertising – after all, advertising is supposed to promote a product, and if you love the ad, but can’t remember the product, does that not somewhat defeat the purpose of making the ad?
In years past, I would have said that was the case, but with the advent of the Internet and, in particular, YouTube, that seems to not be such an issue. Case in point here – “Bill the Alpaca Farmer” has been posted to YouTube about six seperate times (from my quick count) and totalled over 40,000 views. Add to that a Facebook Fan Group (that actually mentions the company name, along with the character from the ad) and he’s starting to become a bit of a cult celebrity and promoting the company to a much wider audience. While that may be small change in TV advertising terms, if the videos go truly viral, they could reach sections of the community that may not have seen it on TV – and the company logo is predominantly shown at the end of the ad, along with the slogan – which means the brand will eventually be linked to the ad, even if its just subconsciously, by a much wider audience. It’s truly clever advertising these days to make copies of ads available for places such as YouTube – because if the audiences there like it, or even hate it, they’ll do the work for you by reposting the video and sending it viral.
Food for thought.
As for me? Well, I also have a TV commercial coming up – not for an insurance company, but it could be classified as humourous – the team who worked on it also consulted for one of the “Wallace & Grommit” films – so yes, there would be clay animation with live action involved. Can’t say any more now, however … you’ll just have to keep your eye on the TV and resist that natural urge to channel surf during the ad breaks … 🙂