Advertising, BRAND

Why So Serious..when you could Self Spoof..

Didnt you ‘Just do it’ when you wore those Nikes? What about the nothingness of impossibility with them Adidas kicks? And surely, if you did not find wings with a Redbull, you would have ‘do(ne) the dew’ with some on the Mountain top.

Welcome to youth brands central– sky high promises ranging from overcoming your fears to getting laid. If its in your head, it’s on a soda bottle.

The question then is, how persistently can you tell these at best half truths? Will you be able to distinguish yourself in this clutter? Is being a youth brand sexy only at the surface.  Do you feel shallow when mere cultivated  images and perceptions make or break the game? Of course, if the success of the afore mentioned brands and their campaigns is anything to go by- this could go on forever.

Except sometimes the ‘creativity drag’ is a bit of a pull.

“My campaigns are so creative, exhilaratingly thought-provoking, each campaign I do feels like the first one”. Fair enough. Only problem being your youth audience is too mature for black and white.They aren’t always listening to what you’re saying, just because you’ve said it so well so many times.

The Solution

TAKE IT EASY. You know humour works. You’ve done slapstick, sarcastic, witty, random and others we don’t really have words for. There is also parody mostly at the expense of your rival.

“He!, he’s just a poser, I am  in all humility (believe me please) the king of this road, the man to ride with” <side grin>.

It gets ugly at times, but that’s only a small price to pay.

 (sweet-tempered Bhajji was enraged enough to sue UB)

What’s the best way to parody without blowing the exhaust right in the face of a fair rival?

It’s not easy this magnanimity, but ever so seldom comes along a brand which can crack jokes at its own expense.A brand which does not have illusions of a perfect world, perfect customers and perfect communication. Welcome to the the humble world of self parody. Remember the bozo at office who always tried to appear cool by strutting stuff and poking fun at others? Remember him being over shadowed by the self-deprecating Mr. Popular. We love people who can laugh at themselves.

And by the very same logic, we love brands that can take themselves lightly once in a while.

Self-parody: Why does it work so well?

  • Being human

Brands usually go over the top trying to satisfy consumer needs by packaging their product fancy. In most cases, the audience tends to ignore this since a hell lot of brands do that pretty frequently and pretty well now. But when brands start looking and talking human, even a bit imperfect,(like Apple you see they’re a bit vain #justsaying), young folks think: they too have a sense of humor!

GEICO’s spoof over their own failed TV show capitalizes on their failure:

  • Shedding the elitist tag:

In trying to look cool-cooler-coolest, brands sometimes alienate themselves from their audience. In ridiculing themselves, they can once again establish that connection.

Ackowledging your claims are not correct all the time: You’ve not only made vaguely unrealistic claims, rather they are not even applicable in all situations . Take this example to Invisibandages: check out the end! 


  • Saving face: Celebrities are brands in themselves. Self parodying is what can help a celeb’s ruined image the most. Kevin Federline did it by appearing in a Nationwide Insurance Commercial!
  •  Admitting that you oversell on not very useful attributes – Telling them about attributes that are never going to make a difference is common advertising practice. Like do I care if Bournville sources its cocoa directly from Ghana. Do I even believe it!. Ridiculing that aspect of your own ads is like laughing at the same joke as your audience, but making a great point at the same time, that “your coffee beans do indeed come from exotic Ghana”. 

When does it work?

  • Why so serious: If you are able to go through your last 5 commercial campaigns without a single guffaw, try as hard as you might, it might be a good idea to go easy for at least a while
  • Out of money, out of mind, You need some buzz as you’re on the brink of being labeled “Me too”
  • Screwed big time: You’ve fallen out of favor due to something you did. People are already laughing at you. Self spoofvertise before someone else spoofs you. GEICO ad above totally kills it! ESPN released this commercial after being criticized for excessive coverage of Brett Favre (a sporadically retiring American Football star)  during NFL and covered up pretty well. 
  • Past your prime: Once-popular celebrities who are out of the limelight cash in on self mockery pretty well!
  • Anytime! : You don’t need to have an axe hanging on your head to lighten up. Self spoofvertising brings in freshness and presents you in a new light, your audience might just start loving you even more.

When should you NOT?

If you cant let go of your vanity, don’t even try. A half hearted attempt at self spoofing bordering on self promotion will be just that-lame. Which might probably explain why India doesn’t have many memorable examples of self parodying commercials. We aren’t very tolerant folks when it comes to humor, are we? The closest we’ve been to self parodies on the tube might be the ones at film or TV award shoes, where you get one portion of self-parody for every ten portions of self promotions.

Self spoofing is fun! Can we push the boundaries though?

YES WE CAN (I wonder how American’s would take Obama parodying his now (in)famous slogan).

Subvert+advertise= Subvertise. How do you subvert and advertise something and call it an extension of self spoofing? You subvertise yourself, that’s why!

Subvertising is a manifestation of a long standing culture jamming movement, where people decided that they were bombarded with too much of advertising, their world was getting dominated by brands, and they were accepting this intrusion of their space. To counter that, what better way than to use the same medium against the corporations. How do you do it? Take a well accepted logo for a well known brand which is almost etched into public memory.  Then distort that logo such that it retains the same feel and treatment, only the message is changed. Sample this:

Wont you look at the second one twice? Once, you just noticed and felt something was different. The second time around, you get the message. And is it delivered in style.

The Dark side: Ethical?

The major dilemma while using this form of advertising would be – Should we be using an anti­ advertising and anti corporation movement for the exact same cause they so swear against? Will it alienate your precious consumer?

Simple Answer: you’re taking their jokes well, what would you expect in return.



No comments yet.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: