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How Humor in OOH Means Business

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That’s Funny! How Humor in OOH Means Business


by Casey Binkley, CEO at Movia Media




The role of any OOH placement is to get attention…and nothing works like a funny ad. In fact, when done right, humor in out-of-home (OOH) messages can cut through the noise of busy surroundings and connect directly to customers, getting them where it counts – in their funny bones. Not only does this help people take in the message, it builds brand love – which is ultimately felt in a campaign’s ROI.

Here are past examples of how a few big brands leveraged their quick-wit to drive some serious conversions.

Buckley’s Timeline of Awful Taste


To celebrate their 100th birthday in 2019, Buckley’s took to the Toronto subway line with a show-stopping 100 portraits of “awful-taste faces” over the past century. That’s right, a collection of 100 different ads, spanning almost the entire length of the subway, took riders on a journey through some the of the most memorable (and hilarious) decades style-wise, capturing some pretty sour-faced Buckley’s users each time. The purpose? To leverage the company’s famous slogan, “Tastes awful. And it works.”

The campaign ran for 4 weeks and dominated Toronto’s busiest subway line (Yonge/University). Operating as an omnichannel campaign, the subway banner created a “digital initiative that drove people to Buckley’s website which hosts an interactive gallery that enables Canadians to engage like never before.”

The hilarious ads were especially engaging to daily commuters, who could take in one decade of the campaign on their way to work and another one on their way back home. The visual impact of the long row of portraits, combined with the humor of the photos, made for an engaging customer experience. Not to mention that it resonated with anyone who could recall the ordeal of spooning the nasty cough syrup when under the weather themselves.

Grateful Britain Campaign – a (Funny) Ode to the Heroes


As part of the nationwide DOOH campaign in the month of April, the outdoor advertising industry donated space for a campaign called “Grateful Britain”, which amplified the country’s gratitude to their National Health Service staff and other frontline workers. Created by Mother London and developed by UK Outsmart, the campaign used levity to highlight the heroic frontline working heroes that were immensely valuable throughout the lockdown and beyond. The ads were not meant to sell products, but a means for the people of London to show their thanks to essential workers in a motivating, humorous way.

You’re a Mean One…and We Love It!


In November 2018, Universal production studios needed to convince New Yorkers to head to the cinemas to catch the latest Dr. Seuss-themed film, The Grinch. In order to distinguish the film from the other Fall offerings, Universal created a witty billboard ad tailored to the locals. They did it by bringing to life the Grinch’s mean spirit in a tongue-in-cheek way, provoking a flurry of conversations on social media. By poking fun at those lining up for hard-to-get Broadway tickets, they managed to reach an unexpected demographic for an animated family film – millennials. Eighteen percent of ticket buyers on opening weekend were between the ages of 18-24, compared with 12 percent for Illumination’s previous animated feature, Despicable Me 3. By not being afraid to be provocative (and staying true to what people love to hate about this classic character) this single ad created one big victory for Universal.

Laugh All The Way To The Bank.

Not surprisingly, humor is one of the most effective tools brands can use to connect with their audience. When crafted with insight and honesty, a comedic ad can build brand affinity and create positive emotions that can lead to more sales. Perhaps there is no better time to test this theory than now, when people are more ready than ever for a good laugh.

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed belong solely to the author, and not necessarily OOH Today

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1 Comment
  1. […] out of their office windows will look at your ad. This is especially true if your billboard is humorous in some […]