Comedy’s considerable clout

AOUNnnI see proof each and every new day that more and more organizations are using the power of comedy to engage and connect with their audiences in meaningful ways.

Two recent cases in point:

– A new campaign from Holiday Inn Express features comedian Jim Gaffigan and includes digital ads, radio spots and videos (insert link). A hotel chain executive says they chose comedy (and digital) as their strategies because, “The typical Holiday Inn Express customer is a frequent business traveler between the ages of 25 and 44 who is smart, witty and independent, likes to keep moving, and pays for what he needs and nothing for what he doesn’t.” Sounds a little like my business partner, Ed.

Holiday Inn’s spots all contain funny Gaffiganism’s highlighting the chain’s free breakfast offering.

And, check this out, Holiday Inn Express is also sponsoring this month’s Oddball Comedy and Curiosity Festival. How smart is that?

Holiday Inn first listened to their customers’ wants and needs and determined what channel on which they preferred to communicate. Next they identified target customers as witty and smart so they partnered with a recognizably smart, witty comedian to launch a highly-focused campaign. So simple. Yet, so smart.

– Now, check out this video from my alma mater, Northeastern University. You’ll see University president, Joseph Aoun, actually checking into the freshman dormitory, meeting his stunned roommate, playing foosball with the other frosh and bantering with them about anything and everything under the sun.

I know Joseph; in fact Northeastern is a Peppercomm client. He’s extremely serious about the University, its performance and the student experience. But, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. And, that’s a critical ingredient when using comedy to communicate.

Joseph also knows that comedy and video resonate beautifully with incoming freshmen. So, unlike virtually any other college or university present you can name, Aoun is engaging and connecting with current and future students (and their parents) in a smart, funny and memorable manner (and on the right channel).

Ad agencies and digital shops GET the critical role that comedy can play in connecting with audiences. Alas, the vast majority of my senior-level peers in PR do not (because most believe they’re either solving world hunger, finding a cure for cancer, or both).

That’s ok with me, though, because we continue to win assignments from other serious-minded clients who think like Holiday Inn and Northeastern, and ask us to help them leverage comedy’s considerable clout to connect.

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