Greg Simpson, founder of Press for Attention PR and Enterprise Nation Champion for Nottingham, talks about marketing with a sense of humour.
I’ll admit this right from the start, I don’t really like the John Lewis ad.
I am clearly soulless.
Actually, it is great, it is warm, it is emotive but it’s just too “commercial” for me, which sounds odd for an advert, but it feels too much like a plug for Elton’s farewell tour. Although it appears Sainsbury’s knows a thing or two about plugs too.
That said, I’ve already been in to John Lewis to buy a very expensive wreath for my front door, so it hasn’t damaged my relationship with them.
However, what Lidl did in response with their #EltonJohnLewis parody was so utterly brilliant that it HAS started a relationship with them, from pretty much nowhere on my radar. The brands are poles apart but it just shows what can be done with a bit of fun, creativity and most of all, speed.
The “Lidl bit funny” parody now ranks just ahead of my favourite social media campaign of the year, just pipping KFC’s “We’re sorry” tweet during the great chicken crisis of February 2018.
There’s clearly something in the water this year as all of the big brands are getting in on it, “hijacking” one another’s campaigns and riding on the exposure of their rivals.
It is superbly conceived and must be driving media buyers in marketing teams and agencies mad but you’ve got to love it.
The question is, will it shift your brand loyalty, even if it is just a one percent rise in your approval or awareness? After all the fairy dust has settled, that is, what will win the day for the marketing teams.
As marketers and business owners we can learn a lot from these campaigns. Granted, it is horses for courses, I wouldn’t expect John Lewis to start parodying merrily any more than I’d expect to see Aldi spending mega bucks on something flashy, but it does show where a sense of humour can come into play to great effect with your marketing. Even John Lewis themselves have seen the funny side and joined in to show they are good sports, which is of course is on brand for them.
I think there is a huge opportunity for smaller businesses to inject a bit more personality into their PR. I primarily work with experts. I help them to show what they know. The problem is, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of playing it too safe with your messaging and your tone. It is absolutely fine if that is your market and your market responds well to this but I can guarantee that it drives editors up the wall when they receive expert comment on a key topic and they all sound the same.
This means they will probably not get used – it is just noise.
That may be because they have been filtered through the marketing teams and then onto someone like me but there is a balance to be had between playing it safe and frankly, being boring. The latter rarely make much headway in PR terms if they are competing with bigger brands for the same market with the same message and the same method.
A sense of humour helps you stand out. Don’t be afraid to try it when appropriate. This is from a man who sent 100 tins of Spam in the mail as part of a GDPR marketing campaign, and as Elton said… I’m still standing.