Humor is relative – you can’t guarantee people will laugh at your joke. Some probably will, but a few won’t, while others simply won’t get it. This is the reason why only a handful of business companies employ humor as part of their marketing campaign.
When done right, however, humor in marketing is well worth the risk.
In 2009, Dr. Robert Wagstaff was having a difficult time selling his product to the market. Orabrush – a tongue cleaner made with ultra thin bristles to thoroughly cleanse the palette – was promoted through an infomercial and sold in retail. Despite his efforts, Dr. Wagstaff managed to sell only 100 pieces after having spent more than $40,000US in advertisements.
In the hopes of increasing the sagging sales of his product, he reached out to the marketing students at Brigham Young University for suggestions on how to promote Orabrush. After presenting the product to the class, the result was even more depressing – only 8% of people online were interested in purchasing the product. However, Jeffrey Harmon, one of the students in the class, put a positive spin on the situation and believed that the 8% is still millions of people. His outlook encouraged him to take up the project of selling the tongue cleaners on the Internet.
Harmon proceeded to create a video promoting the benefits of using Orabrush with the help of Austin Craig, a quirky and upbeat intern from where Harmon was working full-time. Spending only on a rented camera, script written by Harmon’s friend Joel Ackerman, and Craig as pitchman, Harmon was able to mastermind a compelling 2-minute video that went on to receive 900,000 views days upon being uploaded on Youtube.
More importantly, 20% of the viewers clicked the link on the video that enables them to receive an Orabush free of charge. As a result, the 100,000 stocks were sold or given away to customers.
Everybody understood the punchline
There was no punch line in the advert, at least not in the conventional sense. Instead, Craig delivered Orabrush to the viewers and they laughed with it.
What made the video ad campaign successful is how the humor was seamlessly incorporated into it. Humor is not always about knocking people’s socks off with comedy or getting them to roll on the floor in laughter. Sometimes, it’s about delivering a message presented with gaiety and passion that people can’t help it but crack a smile, if not compelling people to follow up on the call to action.
In short, humor helped get the message across.
Related Article: Seriously Punny Business: The Universal Language of Puns
They threw new material our way…
Harmon and company did not stop with just one video. Since then, they have churned out equally irreverent Orabrush commercials on a regular basis – even parodying popular culture to reach the desired effect. Acknowledging the success they garnered from making videos on Youtube, Orabrush even put up a highly produced theatrical trailer to a fictional autobiographical film “Orabrush: The Movie.”
Not all of their videos were made with the intention of making people laugh – there’s a touching video presentation of how Orabrush was built from the ground up with interviews from the people who made the brand possible.
By following up their video with new ones, Orabrush was not only able to strengthen their customer loyalty, but also increase their branding.
…and the material is good
In line with the creation of new content on their Youtube account, Orabrush unveiled a new character in their social media campaign that helped expand the brand’s success. His name is Morgan the Tongue, a man wearing a huge tongue costume and red tights.
Billed as the “Dirty Tongue,” Morgan is put into different situations that allow the brand to explore situational comedy with a touch of slapstick. One of his most viewed videos is the hilarious Black Ops parody with Wheezy Waiter. He even appeared on an ad spot for Super Bowl Sunday of 2010 in which Morgan was sacking little league footballers, showing how “dirty” he can get.
Unlike their other videos, Morgan The Tongue is featured solely for the purpose of entertainment. Although the Orabrush ads still appear on his videos, the product did not become the focus.
The Orabrush Youtube channel currently has amassed more than 46 million views and 176,000 subscribers since its inception. Their videos were covered by mainstream media such as FOX, New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal, to name a few, and the company was praised for their ability to take advantage of the social media platform and get their product across consumers.
Because of their encouraging sales thanks to their videos, Orabrush was picked up by Walmart around November of last year.
The bottom line
What determines the success of every marketing campaign revolving around humor is how it provides a clear picture of what the product is about.
With Orabrush, the humor served as the medium allowing them to communicate with their customers. If the humor is obscure and not presented properly, the message of Orabrush will have been lost with people. However, Dr. Wagstaff and Harmon presented their product in such a funny and smart way that it leaves no doubt to the viewers’ mind that their product removes 90% of the bacteria in your tongue that causes bad breath. Through the videos, the gap between viewer and product has been narrowed and a sale was inevitable.