Funny is Hard

A lot of us get into advertising to make people laugh. We want to do funny spots like the moose ad for monster.com or the shark spot for Snickers. Check out Adweek’s 18 Great Skittles Ads by TBWA, and you can’t help but want to be on the funny wagon.

But I’m always reminded of something Luke Sullivan (a really funny guy) said. In his book, he says humor is a dialect, not a language. It’s more important to be interesting than just funny.

Funny is good. But it’s also really, really hard. And when you miss, it can be painful. Saturday Night Live hires some of the funniest writers in the country, and the show is still wildly hit-and-miss. Lots of weeks it’s miss-and-miss.

In this article, Gerry Graf tells Creativity his thoughts on humor. If you’ve got an account, you should really read it.

Timeline of a Pitch

June 2007: We begin pitching the National City Bank business.

July 2007: In a preliminary meeting, the client gravitates to the line “Some banks have tellers. We have listeners.”

August 2007: After a couple rounds, the client still really likes the tellers/listeners line.

September 2007: We make our final presentation to National City. The campaign isn’t all about that single line, but it’s included in the work.

October 2007: We’re told that we had the “best strategy” the “best creative” but that the agency is “a little too young, and a little too hip” for them.

November 2007: The business is awarded to Campbell-Mithun.

March 2008: I pass this National City Bank window on my way to work…


I’m not posting to complain. I just want to share a good joke.

When Headlines by Committee Works

Awhile back, Greg posted an article by Sally Hogshead with the simple statistical reality that you have to write about 100 headlines to get a good one. And while creativity by committee can be a frustrating and deadly process, if you have a concept, it sometimes helps to have several writers plugging away at headlines, just to generate the volume.

Here’s an example I found entertaining and relevant to what we do. It’s a story from This American Life about the process they go through at The Onion to create their fantastic headlines.

http://homepage.mac.com/bosiljevac/onion.mp3