Sometimes you just need a good laugh. It’s fun to design client marketing material that has prospects smiling, giggling or drawing attention from office mates seeking the source of huge guffaws. Inspiration for this can come from unusual places. Creative writing with effective humor can enhance anything you produce.
Recently, the Business Insider posted 15 of the most sarcastic Amazon reviews ever (January 27th). Of course, the argument was fake reviews can undermine a company’s marketing efforts, but sometimes it’s best to lighten up and appreciate the humor.
Recognizing that you can’t control how people decide to publicly comment on your business – and that many are victim to reviews that may not be genuine or appropriate – was a message I needed to hear. We’ve been putting out a number of products through some of the big online retailers with Horse Sense and Cents recently, and while we haven’t received any bad, malicious or flippant reviews yet, I won’t take these personally when they do come. This post reminded me it’s important to laugh, even when the joke’s on you.
People get too serious about stereotypes
If you can’t laugh at yourself (or those you’re classified with), you’ll likely spend unnecessary time being offended and hurt. Of course, when writing for business, you need to be careful, but finding humor in people’s biases can be a memorable sales technique.
We did a series of comical campaigns for a B2B technology company client. It was incredibly effective because prospects were able to relate to the messages on many levels, then find a solution in a company that shared their frustration. In this case, all other area providers targeted Fortune 1000 companies. This firm was catering to smaller entities, so it was relatively easy to lampoon the industry and emerge as an understanding answer.
I could be considered a member of every segment mocked below (OK, not the trailer park, but redneck isn’t a big stretch on some days), so figure if I’m laughing at this stuff, it’s not too offensive. I do like wry humor though, so if you’re bothered by stereotypical satire, you probably ought to stop reading now.
My guess is this review was written by a woman. It seems too funny to have been crafted by a man. Bic for her pens in pretty colors – are you serious?:
Bic for Her Pens
“I never did very well at school. I wanted to learn and it felt like all the words I needed were right there in my head, but I just couldn’t get them onto the paper in front of me. If I really pushed myself, I could sometimes manage to draw pretty flowers in the margins . . .What really confused me is that I had no problems in cookery or textiles. At the time I didn’t understand why I could grip and use a wooden spoon or sewing needle but couldn’t properly hold my black-coloured pen for more than 45 seconds without dropping it on the floor and weeping.
Things were a bit better when I left school to go and work sweeping up hair at the local salon – yet again, the broom seemed to just fit into my grip as if it was meant to be there – and I saved up to buy a pink laptop. I still had trouble writing for a long time because, although the case was pink, the keys weren’t designed for female eyes which, as we all know, struggle to discern between shades of black and grey. I could write for about 4 minutes at a time, though, and that’s how I found out about these wonderful pens for girls like me.”
Anyone who has lived in the country ‘for a spell’ knows at least one of these characters:
Three Wolf Man shirt
“This item has wolves on it which makes it intrinsically sweet and worth 5 stars by itself, but once I tried it on, that’s when the magic happened. After checking to ensure that the shirt would properly cover my girth, I walked from my trailer to Wal-mart with the shirt on and was immediately approached by women. . . . The women that approached me wanted to know if I would be their boyfriend and/or give them money for something . . . I told them no, because they didn’t have enough teeth, and frankly a man with a wolf-shirt shouldn’t settle for the first thing that comes to him.”
While I don’t consider myself a geek, I suppose some of my tastes might disagree. Science fiction fascinates me – not only as a source of entertainment, but for the imaginations involved to posit a future. And, yes, I’ve seen all six Star Wars movies (more than once). No, I haven’t attended any conventions nor donned character costumes.
Officially Licensed Luke Skywalker Ceremonial Jacket With Medal of Yavin
“I was tired of getting hit on by beautiful women every time I went in public, and then I bought this jacket. Problem solved.
I must add that this jacket’s repellant powers are infinitely multiplied when coupled with the included Medal of Yavin. Without it, the untrained female eye may confuse this ceremonial jacket with a Justin Timberlake style biker coat.
So if you’re the type of guy who prefers to sit in a corner of the bar sipping Mike’s hard lemonade while playing touch screen erotic photo hunt without any interruptions, you need to get this jacket. The 7 year olds in Shanghai who made this must-own article of clothing didn’t grind out this bad boy for nothing.”
Some products don’t deserve a market
Among the sea of odd but small segment products, there’s always some that stand out as designed for another planet (it seems the product has since been removed – I’m guessing the price was astronomical).
Elephant Camouflage Kit
“I’m very pleased that Amazon is finally offering a range of practical products. The low, low price of this kit coupled with its vast applications makes it perfect for all occasions.
I’m a mother of five, and sometimes it’s hard to find time to do all the gift shopping; but with this kit, in addition to securing the safety of my elephant, I have also discovered a great stocking stuffer, a wonderful birthday gift-bag addition for the kids’ parties, and a special treat for those rare pampering spa days.”
If you want to read the entire post, it’s here at: http://www.businessinsider.com/stupidest-amazon-product-reviews-2013-1?op=1#ixzz2JzCiv5sL. Frankly, this is the first time I’ve visited this site, and after cruising around for a while (there’s no about page), I can’t figure out what they’re trying to do. Still, there’s some interesting content – just an unclear focus. As for the choice on the hyperlink language, I didn’t find too much stupid here – mostly brilliant comic relief.
Do you enjoy copy that makes you laugh? Are you offended by messages that poke fun? What do you consider crossing the line? Have you found a great resource for comic relief? Do you use humor in your creative writing projects? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
7 responses to “Creative writing can be hysterical”
Interesting post and quite timely as I was speaking with a client about the use of humour in his ads.
I’m not sure it’s something I would suggest someone do depending on the desired outcome. If the writing is for mere client relationship i.e a blog, newsletter etc then it’s not so bad. But if for an advert or a marketing piece that seeks a specific response then the response should be a purchase and not necessarily a laugh.
Unless you’re going for brand or image building. There was an episode in Mad Men where they ran an ad to mock one of their competitors but that was their chief aim so you can almost forgo the end result.
Definitely something to think about though.
Thanks for reading and commenting Shola. Sometimes humor can work very well in seeking a call to action. It depends, of course – and you’re right – it can be challenging to incorporate in advertising in many instances. The project I referenced was part of a three-part, three-dimensional mail campaign designed to get in the door, so it was effective for this marketing aim. As always, it depends :-).
Spotted this catching up in my Google Reader! Humour has its place is business writing. I have an odd sense of humour and tend to stay away from trying to be funny, I tend to fail miserably!
When it comes to fake reviews, I’ll admit to several hours lost chuckling away. The horse head one has to be a favourite of mine. You do have to wonder how many extra sales they have made of that awful thing because of the reviews going viral.
Hi Jan – been busy here too :-). Agreed, a miss in humor can be damaging. It can be tough to use effectively in business. When it works, though, it’s memorable in a way that leads to sales. I remember when ad specialties were all the rage – no one selling these things seemed to understand how really engage then in an effective marketing campaign. Send the right one with the right message and people are sharing it with everyone that comes in their office. No idea on the sales uptick on these items. I suppose I should check, but have more important things to do.
I don’t think those were useful products. They were just marketing forays. I’m not even sure the Bic pens for her made money (unless they were ridiculously priced)- but may have succeeded just because Bic commands shelf space at stores- and could leave one peg open for these impulse items.
Right, Roy. I just found the reviews fun to read. Laughter is good medicine sometimes – even as a means for brainstorming when brilliance is waning in marketing strategies.
Fabulous! I absolutely enjoyed every second of this; it brightened my morning – especially the Bic pen review. Phenom!