A Nice Throw-Back: Ads That Are Actually Funny

I had a week in the USA this month and caught this series of ads in between my son’s Lego Ninjago cartoons. There are several in the campaign and nearly all are laugh-out-loud funny. Great job by Grey New York.

Cover of "Platoon (Special Edition)"
I always preferred Full Metal Jacket anyway

The acting is spot on. What also makes it is the director having an acute eye for what’s visually funny in someone suffering self-inflicted misfortune and the copywriter’s construction of the still plausible while highly unlucky chains of events. Check out one of the others that ends up with the protagonist re-enacting a scene from Platoon with Charlie Sheenin his living room.

Morrissey‘s question in The Queen Is Dead, “Has the world changed, or have I changed?” often comes to mind – we both have, is the short answer – but these Directv ads had me pondering on whether it’s me or whether there are fewer really out-and-out funny ads about these days. There was a time (the mid to late 90s feels like the peak) when British ad breaks were a real source of comedic delights: the increasingly surreal Tango ads, Reeves and Mortimer’s immortal Cadbury’s Boost tagline (“Slightly rippled with a flat underside”) and that man Bob Mortimer again talking to people about cod’s roe through a loud hailer for First Direct. These were belly laughs.  And talking of bellies, I am still haunted and thrilled by Reebok‘s sublimely disturbing “Belly’s Gonna Get Ya” ad, where a disembodied stomach chases a man around town, to a growling soundtrack:

I know advertising isn’t there just to make my little demographic chuckle, but it’s nice when it does.

Published by Simon Riley

Qualitative researcher in the UK. I listen to people from all walks of life and think about what it all means. I work for leading brands, media companies and government.

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