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Marketing that’s fun makes a simple promise to the customer based on emotion and the philosophy of “show, don’t tell”. It simply asserts – this product makes life more fun!

And who wouldn’t like a little more fun in their life? When you take away the pressure of family, work, and finances, fun plays a big role in fulfilling needs around belonging, self esteem, even self actualisation. Imagine a product that could do all that. We’d buy it.


Snapshot: 5 reasons why fun marketing matters.


How can marketers create fun campaigns?

It’s no surprise that fun is generally colourful, nostalgic, cute, and energetic. All things that rarely if ever incite a fight or flight response. Instead they trigger the emotional, inner-child part of our brain that wants a little less responsibility and a little more enjoyment. A space where many purchases are made.

What your customer deems fun might be vastly different depending on their worldview. But generally speaking it’s things that make us laugh and feel good; and as marketers we can utilise our knowledge of our audiences to tap into their unique perspective of fun.

We’ve curated an assortment of marketing campaign examples that make use of fun in different ways, appealing to diverse audiences; keep reading to check them out.


Examples of fun marketing campaigns

Darth Vader Volkswagen

This commercial is built around the fun of imagination; adorable childhood conviction alongside a familiar character turns a moment of wide-eyed wonderment into an advertising piece that genuinely makes viewers laugh.


Home Alone Again

What do you get when you combine Google Assistant with the one-and-only Macaulay Culkin and an undeniably fun content concept? A sixty-second advertisement that became the number-one trending video on Youtube, that’s what.  


Who will save the Oreos?

This integrated campaign takes a sense of play to a whole new level, encouraging fans and other brands to get in on the fun of protecting OREO cookies at any cost. The mission sparked conversations all over social media and generated over 100 million impressions.


Alexa’s Body with Michael B Jordan

Here’s one way to create an ad that viewers want to watch over and over. Clever, humorous scripting all the way through the video and quality talent work together to deliver a simple brand message in a fun, memorable film. 


Belt Up by Dear Storyteller

Proof that a serious and important message can be effectively delivered in a fun way, this campaign encourages local sporting clubs to develop a stronger appreciation for seatbelts using a playful concept for promoting road safety.


Mechanical Rock: Go with the Data by Dear Storyteller

Taking a tongue-in-cheek approach to craft a memorable narrative around the importance of process, this content piece parodies some of the biggest backfires of all time to entertain and inform an audience rapidly accruing tech debt.


Shareable content that gets remembered

As Maya Angelou once famously said: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Fun is something that sticks with you; it’s an emotion you want to share, almost like a gift. And when your customers go to look back on who gave them that feeling, they’ll hopefully grow that same affection for your brand.

If you’d like to take the next step with your brand and create a marketing campaign built around fun, we’d love to talk strategy with you.

We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘honesty is the best policy’, but most marketers have likely encountered situations that called for them to be flexible with the truth. Advertising has a poor reputation when it comes to misleading consumers, and admittedly – that’s deserved to some extent. However, if we resist this common expectation, we can create brand storytelling that taps into the power of one of Jack Trout & Al Ries’ ‘22 Immutable Laws of Marketing‘: the Law of Candour.

This law states that if an aspect of your product is perceived negatively, it’s important to represent that honestly. Sure, that seems counterproductive at face value – but it’s only the first step. Trout and Ries weren’t suggesting that you should explicitly draw attention to your flaws. Solutions are always preferable to problems, so offering a counter-perception is key. Take the aspect of your brand that’s perceived as negative, and find a way to flip it. That’s step two. Let’s take a look at some real-world examples to see how this is done:

Turn ‘negatives’ into unique selling points

Everyone knows Listerine right? They’re the biggest name in the mouthwash game. How about Scope? Probably not. They’re Procter & Gamble’s mouthwash brand, and have set themselves up with a longstanding reputation as the ‘better-tasting alternative’. When they began that campaign in the 70s, many thought it spelt doom for Listerine. But they recognised that taste wasn’t their selling point. It was actually quite the opposite.

A Listerine ad that’s painfully outdated, but demonstrates the Law of Candour well. Source: Reddit.

Listerine’s bad taste suggests that it’s better at killing germs. They used candour to effectively change the perception of their product, and are still on top to this day.

In a similar vein, Australians have Vegemite. For some, it’s a staple. For others, it’s horrid. When it comes to this Aussie delicacy, you either love it or hate it. Vegemite have spun this, let’s say ‘uniqueness’, to mean that their product ‘Tastes Like Australia‘, a campaign which presents controversial celebrities like Pauline Hanson and Chopper Read as ‘acquired tastes’. 

Don’t oversell yourself

Honesty isn’t just about admitting your faults, it’s also about humility.

Discord’s new ‘Imagine a Place’ campaign features a branded short film starring Danny DeVito & Awkwafina. Their creative execution is a combination of live action, CGI, and animation to promote the idea that Discord is a platform driven by a diverse user base of niche sub-communities – or ‘servers’. 

The film presents a futuristic online hangout space that looks more like a virtual alternate reality than a simple messaging platform. It’s the users who make Discord what it is. It’s the users who create personalised experiences of adventure, acceptance, self expression, and joy. Discord is simply the digital platform that facilitates these experiences. So, what happens when you avoid candour and elevate your product to the position of hero and changemaker when it’s actually the users who do all this work? You create a cinema-worthy short film that will never match the real life user-experience. And the comment section will be your rapture.  

Awkwafina & Danny DeVito ‘Imagine a Place’. Source: Reddit.

Though this content was fantastic visually, it does miss a conceptual target; Discord was attempting to obscure the fact that their platform caters to niche markets by misrepresenting it as a universal experience. Here’s an idea: make users the heroes. Show us that the experience on Discord is individualised – put it in our hands. Imagine a campaign that shifted from ‘What is Discord?’ to ‘Who’s on Discord?’. This would create a pivot away from the platform’s ‘inaccessibility’ in a way that utilises its esoteric nature without alienating potential users. Had Discord recognised this, they wouldn’t have overshot their mark by so much.

We discuss Discord: The Movie in The Week in Brand Storytelling – have a listen to the full discussion here.

Gambling brands and … social responsibility?

Betting agency, Sportsbet, has unveiled a new campaign – ‘Take A Sec Before You Bet‘. Depicting a group of mates visiting the ‘Mate Museum’, this ad exhibits humour that we’ve come to expect for this market in recent memory. Nothing strange there.

Sportsbet have reworked their marketing approach since releasing the above 2018 ad, which holds a record 793 complaints to Ad Standards. Source: B&T.

The key difference is in the message – this campaign promotes responsible gambling and deposit limits. A far cry from their old ways. Sportsbet have recognised a cultural shift towards concern about irresponsible gambling habits. So, they’re putting the majority of their media spend into this responsibility-focused campaign – which is new for this market. Time will tell if they can successfully rework their image but we’re betting (*forgive us*) it’ll be beneficial for them to be leading the charge as the responsible betting service. 

Tell it like it is

Authentically representing yourself is an incredibly effective way to make your message stick in the audience’s mind. You’d be wrong to think that, when offered a negative, consumers disengage. It’s usually the opposite – think about how you’re more likely to believe someone who spoke poorly of themselves, rather than highly. It’s better to point out a negative to engage a prospective customer and, once they’re receptive, you’ve created your opportunity. That’s where you spin what seemed like a problem, into a solution. Consider these simplified examples:

Listerine tastes bad and that’s good.

Gambling is bad if you aren’t responsible.

Vegemite is not for everyone but some people love it.

You might’ve picked up that it’s best to do this with negatives that aren’t a matter of debate – widely accepted ones that achieve instant agreement. You also don’t want your audience to question the ‘negative’ for too long. Make sure you flip it to your positive quickly. If you can do this in a convincing way, you’ll not only win your audience’s attention, you’ll change their perceptions.

If you enjoyed this, be sure to check out our other stories, where we discuss current trends and unique campaigns happening in the modern marketing space.

In the past, the go-to strategy for countless marketers was to sexualise their content for the assumed benefit of the consumer. From beer to perfume, jeans to soft-drinks, sex has been used to sell just about everything. But in 2021, attitudes towards sex have changed.

So what’s the rub? Does sex not sell anymore?

It’s actually quite the opposite – sex has never sold more successfully. Society is just switching perspectives.

The male gaze

In early June, an ad for Tom Waterhouse’s betting service was condemned by Ad Standards for depicting women in “exploitative and degrading” ways. Their panel found this ad “amounts to a depiction which reduces women to objects or commodities.” 

The ad feels like a relic, dug up from some of the darkest days of exploitative, sexualised advertising. It’s disrespectful toward women and damaging to the Waterhouse name, but make no mistake – it’s completely intentional. Tom was betting on the ad stirring up enough outrage to secure him another fifteen minutes of fame. He was also banking on a Bilzerian-esque lifestyle playing well with his conservative, sports-betting, anti-PC target demographics. 

Tom’s bizarre Christmas 2020 posts. Source: Daily Mail UK.

But Tom is in some ways the last of a dying breed. Even brands that have historically oversexualised their products like Budweiser and Lynx body spray have drastically changed their strategies in recent times. No longer depicting the men who use their products as having god-like sexual qualities. 

The male gaze is considered by some to be an endangered species in advertising. The new wave we’re seeing in sex-centric ads has nothing to do with the male gaze. Undoubtedly, if sex is going to sell moving forward, it has to consider feminine perspectives. 

What do women want?

Victoria’s Secret’s new “VS Collective” rebrand reflects this change. By scrapping their well-established “Angels” branding in favour of more progressive ambassadors (who also act as an advisory board), they intend to signal to consumers that they ‘get it’: they’re changing, and they’re no longer in service of the damaging representation of female sexuality that they peddled (and even led) for decades. 

Their new CEO Martin Waters told the New York Times that an overhaul of the Victoria’s Secret brand was long overdue. “In the old days, the Victoria brand had a single lens, which was called ‘sexy,'” he said, adding that the Angels were no longer “culturally relevant.”

Sure, they’re following all the rules but is it too little, too late? And are they even moving in the right direction?

Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty line of lingerie was recently valued at over $1 billion USD and overtly uses sexuality in its marketing. The difference? They do so as a way of celebrating their core brand principles of “fearlessness, confidence and inclusivity”. The key word here is empowerment – with Rihanna’s lingerie, your sexiness is for you, not someone else. It’s a celebration of what makes each of us different.

Savage x Fenty recently featured models with limb differences. Source: Pedestrian.

Self-love & sexual wellness

As is the case with so many social movements, established brands may be the last to catch onto this trend taking the world by storm, but nevertheless the future seems clear. Sexual brand storytelling is focused far more on our individual relationships with our bodies in terms of pleasure and self care.

Elephant Creative Agency’s May initiative for K-Y, detailed below. Source: Little Black Book.

International lube brand K-Y recently launched an outdoor campaign in New York City to commemorate national Masturbation Month in the US. Among their murals was this ode to the “ménage à moi”:

“Cheers to all who ménage à moi, paddle the pink canoe, and butter their own muffin. Hooray for double-clicking your mouse and beating your own bush. Hats off to auditioning the finger puppets, patting the cat, and slapping the oyster. A toast to all of us who jill off, hands-solo, finger cardio, one-night hand, self-stroke and poke, and stir that honey pot. Here’s to getting busy solo or together. However you polish your pearl – good for you! Let’s give ourselves a hand. It’s Masturbation Month. K-Y.”

If that copy had you squirming in your seat you probably aren’t alone. Australia’s attitude towards sex, particulary offline, tends to trend conservative, still catching up to the likes of London and New York. Perhaps that’s why we’re more likely to see a Tom Waterhouse ad like the one leading this article, than the kind of billboard being produced by K-Y.

Earlier this year, erotic toy manufacturer Lovehoney was awarded the right to use the royal seal on all marketing material moving forward. Why? Well if you ask the Queen, she’d say it’s due to their “outstanding continuous growth”. They’ve managed a 365% increase in sales over the past six years. 

That’s a staggering increase from £12 million to £56 million worth of sex toys since 2015. This market is one of the lucky few to benefit from pandemic-induced social isolation.

Closer to home, we’ve seen sex toy brand NORMAL make use of Sydney’s current lockdown with a strategically placed truck at Bondi Beach. Source: B&T.

A pivot like this shows us that the conversation around sex is shifting perspective, and there are some emerging voices that are gaining more and more influence.

The digital space

Australia has some prolific creators, influencers, and business owners championing the sex positive movement. Rosie Rees is the CEO of Yoni Pleasure Palace and has nearly 100,000 followers on Instagram. Along with sex toys, she offers nude yoga, breath work and many other methods of promoting self love and self acceptance. 

We’ve also seen ex-Bachelor contestant Abbie Chatfield lead a “sexual wellness” revolution through her podcast – “It’s A Lot”

Abbie embraced her commitment to female sexual empowerment even further by partnering with Vush to create her own collection of branded sex toys. These were subsequently turned into a feature story on “Shameless”, one of Australia’s most popular pop culture podcasts for millennial women.

Spotify’s latest major deal was landed by Alex Cooper. Source: Variety.

And as we’ve covered in our podcast earlier this month, Alex Cooper signed her sex-positive podcast “Call Her Daddy” to Spotify – who will host them exclusively from July for a three-year deal worth $60 million USD. Cooper’s ex-co-host Sofia Franklyn remained with Barstool Sports, founding a new podcast – Sofia with an F. Spotify’s contracts with Kim Kardashian West and Joe Rogan are estimated to be worth around ~100 million each, so that makes Cooper’s one of Spotify’s biggest exclusive podcast deals to date. Mike & Clare discussed this and heaps of other stories from the marketing world in ep 33 of our podcast – The Week in Brand Storytelling.

All of these influencers have built their platforms by focusing on content related to relationships and sexuality. By adopting candid approaches to sex in their storytelling they have been able to find audiences who relate to them.

Empowering consumers

What we’re seeing is a movement away from sexual objectification, ‘othering’, towards more personal messages of self-love and sexual wellness that empower people in their own rights. For marketers, that means approaching consumers as subjects benefiting from a healthy relationship to pleasure and sex, rather than objects whose value starts and ends with their perceived level of sex appeal.

So we’d say yes, sex does still sell. And it’s because society is switching perspective.

Every generation feels like they’re living through the most pivotal changes in human history, but this time it’s real. Okay, every other generation probably said that too but here we stand amongst global climate change, LGBTQIA+, Me Too, and BLM movements; we’re in the nucleus of a viral pandemic! And we won’t mention that orange guy. These global events have an impact on conversations, culture, and… content. Nowadays, audiences are hypersensitive to social trends. Staying on top of this requires content creators to have a keen sense of relevance. So, to hit our mark with branded entertainment, we first need to master the art of ‘reading the room’.

Modern missteps

Just recently, DC’s Injustice 2 ran an in-game event and, as a way of celebrating LGBTQIA+ culture and marking Pride Month, they challenged players to repeatedly fight Poison Ivy. For those of you who don’t know Batman character profiles (we forgive you), Poison Ivy is a popular bisexual villain. Fans on social media had plenty to say.

This mistake is not something localised to the, now annual, phenomena of Pride Month marketing. There’s the infamous Kendall Jenner x Pepsi collab from 2017 that none of us will forget in a hurry. And, the 2012 “BIC for Her” campaign. Yes, they created pens specifically designed for women. They were pink. They were more expensive. They asked Ellen to give them a shout-out on her show and …. let’s just say, it didn’t go how they’d planned.

You might sideline these marketing missteps as one-offs and think that we would all do better. But surely, there were a lot of people in these boardrooms – signing off each brief, concept, storyboard, script, draft, second draft. And they still made it to air. 

So let’s talk about relevance in entertainment advertising – how do we stay in touch and foster authentic emotional connections with audiences?

The law of candour

Dettol’s latest campaign is an attempt to position their products (specifically sanitiser) as “helping protect what [their consumers] love”.

The UK iteration of Dettol’s “Helping Protect What We Love Since 1933”. Source: Ads of the World.

Commissioned through global ad agency, McCann, it is at the apex of the relevance conversation. Why? Because, as the COVID vaccine rolls out globally, hand sanitisers are no longer flying off the shelves and being hawked for 100 Bitcoin a bottle. So, what did they do? They attached fear to things of value – specifically a family business, judo, and football. These doco-style stories all boil down to one proposition: we (Dettol) protect what you love. 

The problem here is that collective conversations around the global pandemic have shifted towards the idea that freedom is possible, the world will open back up, and we will feel safe again. This doesn’t serve Dettol. They need us to stay scared and stay buying their products by the litre.

Rather than trying to stoke the embers of fear to retain their relevance (i.e. profits and power), they could instead subvert audience expectations and lean in to candour. What if Dettol was to celebrate sales plummeting due to decreased pandemic demand? The refreshing feeling a creative piece like that could generate has the potential to spur a new wave of loyal Dettol customers: consumers who connect with brands that tell it like it is. That would be how you read a room, craft a relevant story and foster genuine emotional engagement.

Join conversations they’re already having

Unless your brand is really leading the charge culturally-speaking (and we would argue that few are), you should stay connected to the conversations that already exist in the zeitgeist. Your ideal customers will have a set of world-views, opinions, pain points, and motivations. Your messaging needs to address that. If BIC considered this back in 2012, I doubt that they would have found women desperately seeking a pen that was designed and priced for dainty hands. 

“BIC for Her” ballpoint pens. Source: Amazon.

Let’s fast forward to 2021 – BIC’s current play is a collaboration with mindfulness app Smiling Mind, “Smiling Mind Creates”. This campaign focuses on bringing together art and mindfulness through the work of three Aussie illustrators – Yan Yan Candy Ng, Emma Leonard, and Ben Sanders.

Sure, mindfulness is in the zeitgeist, and it’s technically a match to the BIC brand considering they make pens. But is it too late? Have they missed the boat on adult colouring-in? And, further than that, will their consumers see through this as a desperate grab for relevance from a manufacturer specialising in cheap plastic products?

Dissolve the faceless brand

Big corporations rarely offer a tangible sense of grounded, grassroots personality. That’s why so many companies seek out relevant personalities to act as brand ambassadors – they’re trying to capitalise on their influence. It’s celebrity endorsement 101 and it’s not going anywhere, but it is pivoting. 

This brings us to Victoria’s Secret’s recent attempt at clawing back to relevance; this time without their male-gaze goggles strapped so tightly to their marking approval process.

The VS Collective – Adut Akech, Amanda de Cadenet, Eileen Gu, Megan Rapinoe, Paloma Elsesser, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Valentina Sampaio. Source: PR Newswire.

The “VS Collective” rebrand is scrapping their well-established “Angels” branding in favour of more progressive ambassadors. Alongside representing the company, they will also act as an advisory board. 

This is all intended as a signal to consumers that they ‘get it’: they’re changing, and they’re no longer in service of the damaging representation of female sexuality that they peddled (and even led) for decades. Sure, they’re following all the rules, but it might be too little, too late.

The constant state of change

The most relatable stories are always the ones that agree with our worldview. Instead of debating with customers about the virtues of your product, these stories find ways of articulating something we already fundamentally agreed with. Better yet, the story makes us feel smarter for thinking that way in the first place. This can only be done when you know who you’re talking to and what they care about.

Ask yourself – what does my audience actually need/desire/care about? Where are their pain points and how are they evolving? We’ve all heard that this modern world is a ‘high-speed’ one, but people often forget that this means everyone’s in a constant state of change and evolution.

Finally, always question your position (and proposition!)

If you’re falling short and grasping at relevance, perhaps your position – or at the very least, your leading proposition – is on its way out. Maintaining brand relevance is all about moving with trends rather than attempting to capitalise on them after the fact. 

But even before that, you need to make sure you actually offer market-fit products. That way, you’re solving problems people actually have. This is far more ideal than inventing new problems you’ll have to spend a lot of marketing $$ convincing people of.

If you consider the actual value and position you hold for consumers, you’ll have a far easier time creating branded entertainment they will respond to. 

To all marketers, creatives and storytellers: good luck out there and stay tuned for more articles like this in the future!