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How to be Funny in Your Marketing

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    Not as funny as Louis CK, mind you, but funny all the same.

     This comes from a site called Gamasutra, which is an industry insider blog for game-makers. You may not be making games, and that's fine, but the gist is still the same: If you're making a product that's funny (a book, a movie, a whatever), its marketing should feel cut from the same DNA.

    This stems from a game called "Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon." Stay with me on this, I'll explain why this is all relevant: "Far Cry 3" was a game that came out late last year, it's one of those open-world games where you shoot stuff and can finish the game in whatever order you wish, like "Grand Theft Auto" but without any of the controversy (relatively speaking). "Blood Dragon" was announced on April Fool's Day, which is a particularly obnoxious day in the gaming world: Lots of hoaxes are announced, and lots of people assumed "Blood Dragon" was a joke, and never even considered it to be real. 

    But then, the ads kept coming. Some of my students at DePaul thought the April Fool's joke was so popular the team behind it white-knuckled a game into existence as quickly as possible so it could be released last week.

    Now, games are not known for their humor. And it isn't worth explaining everything to you about the game, per se, but it was a fully realized product that naturally lent itself to some goofiness -- including when the marketing push was started: April Fool's Day.

    "Announcing on April the 1st [is] something we've been wanting to do for a really long time," Creative Director Dean Evens told Gamasutra. "I come from a family of practical jokers, and I guess that's why I turned out like I did. ...When you have a few people at [Ubisoft] who are like, 'No, announcing on April the 1st is a bad business decision! It's not good business practice,' that, for me, makes it good business practice, then. Go against the grain a little."

    Evans recommends if you truly want to make your marketing and product funny, you should tap into your inner child ( 'Well, transport yourself back to when you were 12 years old. Would you think it was cool?' And if the answer's yes, put it in. Let's see how it feels."), think beyond the scope of your product ("The philosophy that I wanted to get across to the team was: 'Try and think of it as this action property that's just gone haywire.' ...So when looking at it I wanted people to think we've also got action figures, there's a cartoon, there's a lunchbox.") and, well, if this intrigues you, give the full piece a read here

    David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City and an adjunct professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. (He also co-runs a blog behind the DePaul class, DIY Game Dev.) He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.