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March 18th, 2016

Why does weird work?



By Brokaw Art Director, Paloma Cortez, and Brokaw Copywriter, Aaron McBride 

Quick: Stop what you’re doing, go to a high-traffic area in your office, and stand there with a stack of books balancing on your head. Are you there? Good. Are people staring and making terrible jokes like, “Uh, you’re supposed to read books, not wear them.”? Of course they are. Because weird—in any situation—demands attention. It stops us in our tracks and almost forces us to decide if we like it or not.

That’s why you see it all the time in advertising. It’s an immediate connection­—which is what every brand should be aspiring to make. You can fill your ad with all the information your heart desires…but if you don’t make a connection with viewers, chances are they won’t remember it.

According to an article in The Atlantic, Nigel Hollis explains that our attention is naturally directed by what previous experience indicates is potentially good or bad. Watching someone drink a cold, icy glass of iced tea on a hot day feels pleasant, since most of us can identify with that experience. Negative connections don’t tend to work other than in PSA announcements. So, if we want to make people feel positive about a brand, then using negative associations can backfire. The goal is to leave the viewer scratching their head while smiling—not physically ill. Like this spot from Ireland. Uh…enjoy?

Dog breath:

You see, weird can backfire. But when done correctly (with a little good taste), it can be just what you need to ingrain your brand in consumers’ brains.

According to an Ace Metrix study, weird, funny ads do receive higher viewer attention engagement and help increase likability for the ad, but are the least effective if they are not relevant or contribute substance to the message.

So here are some successful, weird ads that grabbed viewer’s attentions AND made their brand relevant.

Skittles “Piñata”:

You may have seen this spot 20 times during the Super Bowl. And 200 times since. But enjoy it again!

Mountain Dew “Puppymonkeybaby”:

And now for this super weird and funny Dr. Pepper spot. It also happens to be the best thing Justin Guarini ever did.

Dr. Pepper “Lil Sweet: Playhouse”:

Lastly, here’s Old Spice doing what Old Spice does best.

Old Spice “Mom Song”:

Now you know that weird can work wonders for a brand. Well, as long as you have an agency that specializes in flying their freak flag—high above the blah blah.

And we just may know an agency that does.