Response: New Survey Shows Humor as Common Denominator for Facebook Use

A couple weeks ago, Aaron Smith wrote an article revealing six new facts about Facebook use that were found through a new Pew Research Center study. Among these findings is a breakdown of the major reasons people use Facebook, separated by gender.


I’m not too concerned with the gender separation here. The most important part is that more than 35% of Facebook users log on to see funny or entertaining content. I have previously talked about how people only want to share things that will shed positive light on their own personal brand. This is a direct response of that fact. Because we want our Facebook profiles to have quality content on them, we know that by logging in to Facebook, we’ll find the best of what our friends find as well.

Another important statistic that arose is that 44% of users like their friends’ content daily, while only 10% create content daily. Why is this significant? We log on to consume much more than to produce. Our Facebook activity is highly dependant on the content created or shared by our friends. We are more than four times more likely to engage in our friends’ content than create our own. Tying back into the previous statistic, we’re signing in because we know our friends post things, and more than a third of us do it because we hope they post something funny.

It’s not always easy for someone who is not too savvy with the internet to find the content that interests them. Facebook has allowed us to let that content come to us. Whether you want funny cat videos or serious articles, logging in to Facebook and browsing the feed can bring us what we want.


Old Navy Adds Humor Without Changing Their Model

Old Navy just hit a home run. They stepped up their humor game for their newest campaign, but stayed true to themselves. Old Navy brought in former MADtv cast member Debra Wilson, yet kept their message clear and stayed relatable.

Most Old Navy commercials have very clear messages: SUMMER SHORTS FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY! or SWEATERS FOR MOM! or $12 CREW NECKS! The model will smile, often spin around while wearing the item, and brightly colored numbers and letters will repeat the current deal on screen. It’s always easy to know what’s going on at Old Navy, but it’s not really easy to pay attention to the commercials. They look the same every time.

Old Navy commercials have been humorous before, whether it was the mannequin voiceovers or the classic name mix up, but the humor isn’t memorable. They’ve also had celebrity appearances before. This time, however, Debra Wilson comes in to play an airport security worker who’s excited about a passenger’s jeans.

We can immediatelyrelate to the commercial, as anyone who has ever been through an airport security line has dealt with the annoyances of that system and the sassy security agents you might encounter.  Quickly, Wilson’s antics and faces get you laughing. The passenger is then able to act as a foil to Wilson and talk about Old Navy’s promotion, while Wilson can carry the humor herself (with the help of her sassy sidekick, Larry).

The chaos breaks out when the passenger announces that you can get $5 off this weekend just for trying them on. Cue the cartoon music, the flying suitcases, and a tiny yelping dog. The logo flashes on screen and just like that, the spot is over and we all go back to our day.

Why is this memorable? Why does this commercial work? Old Navy took a very smart approach to this. Many companies will try to “go funny” and try to rebrand themselves as funny in the process. Instead of going for something completely new, Old Navy stuck to their guns and incorporated humor into their tried and true model. Old Navy has always been proud of its everyday style and easy attitude. By staying relatable, they were able to make a big step for themselves without sacrificing anything.

Nike Tries New Approach, Goes Funny for the New FuelBand SE

When you think of Nike, what do you think of? I don’t mean the price tags or the foreign labor or anything like that. Just think of your reaction when you see the Swoosh. It’s all about the wow factor and the cool factor. They usually highlight celebrity athletes working out or performing physically intense activities.

After all, Nike is dedicated to athletic performance. The funniest I’ve ever seen Nike go was a promotional video they made around the first edition of the FuelBand, and they were targeting the college audience anyway. (I may or may not be the chef in this video.)

As somebody who uses a Nike FuelBand and didn’t buy it because of a funny commercial, it was very interesting to see the new FuelBand SE commercials. The commercial features a voiceover with just a close up of the new FuelBand, and the voice sarcastically lists off who the product is not meant for, including people who don’t like cool stuff on their wrists, people who don’t like feeling awesome, and people who don’t like wrists. The list goes on and on before saying that otherwise, it’s for you.

This take is brilliant. I get questions all the time about why I have a FuelBand. I’m not somebody you would envision at a gym or keeping track of how much physical activity I’ve done. However, I love my FuelBand because it keeps me more active. It’s a constant reminder of when I haven’t done enough physical activity in a day. I’m not someone who is incredibly concerned with my daily workout. I don’t even have a daily workout. I am part of this new target audience, though.

Nike is going for people who aren’t obsessed with their workouts but want to stay more active. They’re aiming for those who want to look after their body, but aren’t necessarily out drinking protein shakes or ordering off the “skinny” menus at restaurants. We like commercials that poke fun at workoutaholics. We may want to workout, but we don’t want to take it too seriously.

I’m really proud of Nike for making this move. It doesn’t alienate anyone whose body type doesn’t match those in their normal commercials. By avoiding the human visual element, it brings those of us in who aren’t part of their normal fitness audience. Well done, Nike, well done.

New Strategies Arise to Communicate with Super Bowl Audience

Buying an expensive Super Bowl ad isn’t the only way to get people talking about you on the biggest Sunday in February. While the game itself turned out to be a blowout, the audience still stuck around. Whether we wanted to see more commercials, or just didn’t have anything else to do, we kept watching. I, for one, multitasked and turned to Twitter and other online platforms to find out the latest buzz. Let’s take a look at some of my favorites.

JCPenney’s #TweetingWithMittens

To my generation, JCPenney is a forgotten brand, but when the JCPenney Twitter account started tweeting out what looked like drunken tweets, the Twittersphere exploded. As people’s attention moved away from the game, the buzz became about JCPenney’s odd tweets.

Who kkmew theis was ghiong tob e a baweball ghamle. #lowsscorinh 5_0

— JCPenney (@jcpenney) February 2, 2014

Toughdown Seadawks!! Is sSeattle going toa runaway wit h this???

— JCPenney (@jcpenney) February 3, 2014

They soon followed it with this.

Oops…Sorry for the typos. We were #TweetingWithMittens. Wasn’t it supposed to be colder? Enjoy the game! #GoTeamUSA

— JCPenney (@jcpenney) February 3, 2014

Although many thought that this wasn’t a planned effort or just didn’t like it in general, I loved it. This cost them next to nothing and got EVERYONE talking about it. Maybe the humor wasn’t on point, but while it may not make everyone laugh, it got us all paying attention.

JCPenney has long been a supporter of the US Olympic team, and this was a great way to get people talking about them again. I may just go get myself some USA mittens!

Newcastle’s Mega Huge Football Game Ad

I don’t want to beat a dead horse with Newcastle’s Super Bowl campaign, so I’ll talk about their game day strategy. Newcastle didn’t buy a Super Bowl ad, so instead, they piggybacked on everyone else’s commercials.

.@jaguar see the mega huge version of your british villain ad the way we would’ve made it: #IfWeMadeIt #GoodToBeBad

— Newcastle Brown Ale (@Newcastle) February 3, 2014

Riding off the success of the earlier parts of this campaign, they kept people talking about them. Using some clever, quick-working storyboard artists and a Twitter account, Newcastle played the real time marketing game well.


By choosing the ad spot immediately after the Super Bowl instead of one during it, Esurance saved $1.5 million and decided to give it to the people!

This may not be the funniest commercial of the Super Bowl, but they had EVERYONE talking about them. I’m not usually one for social media competitions that have users create content that doesn’t have create anything else, but for free money, I’ll give it a try.

It’s very interesting to see companies move away from the main spots to communicate their messages and I can’t wait to see where this goes.

Response: The Audience of Your Audience

That funny video you just made will only work if people want to share it.

As noted by Cassie Boorn in her article about four trends affecting PR departments, “every brand wants a viral video or social media campaign that drives major buzz, but few brands realize what it takes.” The main problem is that the company makes the video for different reasons than the viewer shares it

Let’s say I’m Newcastle Brown Ale and I make a video with Anna Kendrick with her talking about how she was supposed to be in a Super Bowl ad but there was no Super Bowl ad. (See my previous blog post regarding that campaign for more.) If people don’t think it’s worth sharing, my video won’t get beyond that viewer. In order to “go viral,” my video has to meet the needs of my company in telling some sort of worthwhile message, as well as the needs of the viewer in their role as a content creator on social media. Regardless of the fact that they had nothing to do with the video, the likes, shares, and comments associated with their post affect their personal brand just as much as it does my company’s brand. In this case, the video works because the video’s 3,000,000+ views in just a few days mean people want to share it.

So when Boorn writes that her fourth problem affecting PR departments is that the success of a brand is in the hands of the consumer, what I think really needs to be learned is that those viral videos and ads need to meet several different needs. I see plenty of videos that I like that I don’t want to share. That’s partially due to the fact that I don’t want to necessarily be known as the guy who directs you all over the internet and spams your feeds with links, but that also ties into the other part of it, which is that the videos I don’t share don’t meet my needs as a content creator.

In order to be shared, that funny viral video needs three things. First, the viewer has to find it funny. Second, the viewer has to think that his or her followers will also find it funny. Finally, the viewer has to find it appropriate for his or her followers.

Currently flooding my feeds is this bizarre Australian PSA (which could also be fake) about staying in school where out of nowhere, people get blown up. I guess I can see the humor in it, but whoever wants me to share it, whether it be an Australian public agency or some hit-hungry YouTube account, didn’t take into the account that I don’t really want to share a video of people getting blown up because I don’t find that appropriate for Facebook.

In an age where each one of us on social media is a consumer and a producer, it’s crucial for PR pros looking to go the humorous route to take into account the audience of their audience. The success of their campaign depends on it.


Newcastle Brown Ale Doesn’t Need A Super Bowl Ad

This Newcastle non-ad campaign is out to prove that you don’t need to spend Super Bowl commercial money to make a splash. It’s all centered on the “Mega Huge Football Game Ad Newcastle Didn’t Actually Make.” (They refer to it slightly different each time.) For the past week, Newcastle has been releasing short videos about an ad they didn’t make because they “don’t have a ridiculously large marketing budget” or something like that. Although the videos seem confusing, especially out of context with each other, by taking a step back, I think it’s pretty obvious they’re just going for brand recognition here. And it’s working!

I first came across this campaign a few days ago when several of my friends posted the Anna Kendrick video on Facebook. I think it’s fair to say that these friends who posted the video were not likely to be Newcastle drinkers. Landing somewhere between your average national domestic and a lower end micro brew, Newcastle Brown Ale doesn’t really strike me as something most 20- or 30-somethings would be into. It’s not a bargain beer and it’s not a craft beer that we’re all so into these days.

The great thing about this campaign is that it got people outside of their current market share talking about their product. Even Kendrick admits in the ad, which hardly talks about the beer itself, that she doesn’t drink Newcastle. By releasing a similar video with formal NFL player Keyshawn Johnson, both the Pitch Perfect audience and the nostalgic football fan audience are talking about Newcastle Brown Ale! The Kendrick video is by far the most successful video with over 3,000,000 views, and it seems to be spreading quickly through new audiences.

The masterpiece, though, to me, is the video they released today. This narrated storyboard is complete with “everything a good commercial should have.” Sex appeal, aliens, superstars, robots, beer, sharks, beer, you name it. Not only is it way over the top ridiculous, but also it brings together the loose ends of all the previous videos. Clearly appealing to a younger beer-drinking audience who may not have explored the beer scene too much, Newcastle’s ad just makes me so curious about Newcastle that I HAVE to try one next time I see it at the store.

As someone who’s done some home brewing and brewery tours, I consider myself to be somewhat brew-savvy (just don’t call me a hipster). I’ve had Newcastle, but I can’t really say I remember what it tastes like other than the fact that it was unique. The brilliance in this campaign is that its only real message is “find out more about us.” The videos all direct you to, a site with all of their videos for this campaign, and the videos are penetrating new markets. Their name is now associated with the lovable Anna Kendrick and hysterical storyboard videos. Not bad.

The real question is whether or not there actually will be any Newcastle Super Bowl ads. I don’t really think they need one. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. In the mean time, I think they’re doing just fine.