The Dumbest Way To Create A Branded Comedy Character

The Dumbest Way To Create A Branded Comedy Character
SHARE
THIS



As people watch TV shows for different characters, brands shouldn’t be afraid to introduce characters in their advertising, argues creative at creative tech agency DT, Lee Spencer-Michaelsen.

As a creative at DT, part of my gig is creating memorable content. Depending on the brief, I try to provide a layer of humour to help communicate the idea in an entertaining way. Producing an involuntary snort is a sure fire way to get punters to interact, comprehend and share a message organically.

Because of this, brands shouldn’t be afraid to use character-driven humour. People choose to watch TV shows, movies, and good ads for pant-splitting characters. It follows that it’s smart practice to bring their construct to advertising to get the same attention, empathy and shareability.

And it works. The Old Spice guy has had almost 50 million views, and Kenny Power’s MFCEO is rumoured to have increased sales of K-Swiss Tubes by 250% in the first 30 days.

So if laughs can effectively increase sales and save media money, how do you milk them?

The answer lies in our favourite TV and film comedies. They script stories with unforgettable characters. In advertising, a comic character can provide products and services with a communication platform to string multiple jokes and messages together. Brands nailing it are K-Swiss by appointing Kenny Power’s as the MFCEO for K-Swiss, and more recently, Snickers, starring Mr Bean as a not quite right samurai.

This piece will help you develop one type of character who can be manipulated in millions of different ways to rack up millions of views. With the upcoming Australian release of Dumb and Dumber To, let’s take a look at the construction of the ultimate comic character from 1994’s Dumb and Dumber and how we can bring elements of his personality into advertising.

Step 1: Give your character a comic perspective

It all begins with my old mate Aristotle; the beginning, middle and end dude. In his seminal writings on storytelling, Poetics, he described how comedies are centred on the inferior, stating, “Comedy is an imitation of characters of a lower type.” The protagonist’s immoral mindset gives the audience permission to squeeze out a juicy laugh. So, to begin building a comic character for your brief, an ugly or diminished viewpoint must be established.

Here’s one I prepared earlier. Enter Lloyd Christmas, the epitome of a lower type.

He’s a hard luck loser, who works a crappy job, lives in a dodgy flat, with his pathetic friend Harry. The lesson: start at by scraping the bottom of the barrel. Disguising branded messages through a similar type of comedic guise approaches an audience with their guard down; making them more likely to pay attention, not thinking it’s a blatant request to sell a Nutribullet.

Step 2: Exaggerate your character’s greatest flaw

Now that a faulty foundation has been laid, give your character a flaw and blow it out of proportion. John Vorhaus, author of The Comic Toolbox, writes, “Flaws in a comic character work to open emotional distance between viewers so that they can comfortably laugh at say, someone slipping over a banana.”

Lloyd’s greatest flaw is his unrivalled stupidity. He thinks swapping a child’s motorised scooter for a car is a good deal. For a brand, the character’s flaw may be enhanced by the product or service, highlighting its benefits, and why people need to buy it. In the case of Terry Quattro (Jeff Goldblum), famous person, for the GE Link connected LED light bulb, it’s his amplified arrogance, made possible by the bulbs superior lighting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egIY7ushchU

Step 3: Add an ironic characteristic

A counteractive force that creates a struggle within the character displaces how others see their actions. To distort our character’s flaw and ensure hilarity ensues, adding an ironic characteristic to their personality overtly displays the difference between their intention and the outcome. Conflict is the mother of intrigue.

In the curious case of Lloyd, his ironic characteristic is his confidence. He thinks he’s smart, and his actions educated. This overconfidence sets him up for disaster. His false sense of intelligence and the reality of his stupidity are constantly at odds. Your character will need this internal battle to attract and keep your audience’s attention. Zach Galifianakis’s Between Two Ferns healthcare.gov branded content video with Barack Obama is a classic example, of a dumb character, trying to act smart.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnW3xkHxIEQ

Step 4: Humanise your character

Returning to the words of John Vorhaus, “Humanity is needed to build a bridge between the character and the audience so that the audience can care.” To top off a comic character, they need to be humanised. The ridiculous is used to entertain, but without realism, viewers can be dismissive.

In Dumb and Dumber, Lloyd’s humanity is discovered through his desire to love. He’s sick and tired of being a nobody, and having nobody. It’s easy to sympathise with Lloyd, as he feels alone, scared and humiliated, like most of us have at some point in our lives – or is that just me? Newcastle Brown Ale nails it with the Anna Kendrick and Stephen Merchant spots, showing them in their dressing rooms and trailer, speaking in a down to earth tone to the camera.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90rVManrVug

Character Compete

A classic comic character is born. Mazel tov!

One day we could see Lloyd star in an ad for Big Gulp. It could be you creating it. Until then, use this article as ammunition to convince clients that a funny man or woman may be the way to go about selling their brand. While you’re at it, if you can make sense of Tim and Eric’s comedy, and their Totino’s pizza rolls ad, please let me know.

Lead image via Flickr.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Zenith Sydney MD Karen Halligan To Depart
  • Media

Zenith Sydney MD Karen Halligan To Depart

Zenith Sydney's Karen Halligan has pulled-up stumps, although that's not to infer bad light had anything to do with it.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
PR Agency Hotwire Rebrands
  • Marketing
  • Media

PR Agency Hotwire Rebrands

PR agency Hotwire has rebranded, yet sadly not to "Hot Cocks Who Rock Your Socks Off". Which would've been far cooler.

Challenger Agency VCCP Wins Creative Account For Torrens University Australia
  • Advertising

Challenger Agency VCCP Wins Creative Account For Torrens University Australia

After a competitive pitching process involving five agencies, Torrens University Australia has appointed challenger agency VCCP as its new brand strategy partner and creative agency for 2018. Acclaimed for its work on dynamic brands including ING and Compare the Market in the financial services sector, Laureate Australia CMO Anne Da Cunha said VCCP’s reputation as […]

GumGum Appoints Ansible’s Sarah Baskerville As Victorian Sales Director
  • Advertising
  • Technology

GumGum Appoints Ansible’s Sarah Baskerville As Victorian Sales Director

AI advertising company GumGum has announced the appointment of Sarah Baskerville as its sales director for Victoria. Baskerville joins GumGum from Ansible, where she spent two years as its Melbourne mobile director. Prior to joining Ansible, she was head of specialist sales and partnerships at News Corp Australia, and also held a number of sales […]

The Diamond Concierge Gives Away $85K Ring In Campaign By McCann Queensland
  • Advertising
  • Campaigns

The Diamond Concierge Gives Away $85K Ring In Campaign By McCann Queensland

McCann Queensland’s second instalment of ‘The 5th C’ campaign launched over the weekend for online diamond retailer The Diamond Concierge, which received over 47million views around the world in the first 48 hours of it being released. In this second phase of the campaign, The Diamond Concierge gave away an $85,000 diamond ring, with Gold […]

Sparro Recruits Key Account Director Following Client Wins
  • Marketing

Sparro Recruits Key Account Director Following Client Wins

Digital marketing agency Sparro has announced the appointment of Hannah Jones (pictured above) as a key account director following a spate of client wins. Jones joins Sparro’s senior team alongside founders Cameron and Morris Bryant, overseeing a portfolio of accounts that includes Webjet, Domino’s Pizza, TAFE NSW, Temple & Webster, F45 Training and Bing Lee. […]

Women’s Health’s Jacqui Mooney On Driving A Women’s Brand In An Evolving Industry
  • Media

Women’s Health’s Jacqui Mooney On Driving A Women’s Brand In An Evolving Industry

In an industry facing change, Jacqui Mooney, editor of Women’s Health believes brands such as hers will continue to be a constant. Please note: this article was contributed by Magazine Networks. The magazine industry may be seeing substantial change but Jacqui Mooney has a goal that remains firm: to create happier, healthier lives for Australian women. […]

Why Consumer Brands Are Failing Aussie Mums
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

Why Consumer Brands Are Failing Aussie Mums

Is your game chainsaws or large marlin wall-hangings? Can't seem to attract the mums? This couldn't come soon enough.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Network Ten Creditors Approve CBS Deal
  • Media

Network Ten Creditors Approve CBS Deal

It seems the fight for Ten between CBS and media moguls Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon may finally be over.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
MKTG Signs Exclusive Commercial Partnership With PlayersVoice
  • Marketing
  • Media

MKTG Signs Exclusive Commercial Partnership With PlayersVoice

MKTG has announced it has signed an exclusive commercial partnership with newly-launched sports storytelling site PlayersVoice.com.au – an agreement that will see the agency move into a new territory of sports marketing. The partnership between MKTG and PlayersVoice will see the business managing brand partnership opportunities for the new platform; working with clients to deliver […]

Domo Introduces New Data Security Software Solution
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Domo Introduces New Data Security Software Solution

Domo has announced it has introduced new cloud security technology for its Bring Your Own Key (BYOK) software, which includes unique capabilities like rolling generation of data encryption keys and a built-in kill switch. Domo BYOK is the first BYOK enterprise software solution for cloud analytics and business intelligence, and builds on the company’s existing security, compliance and […]

Shopper Media Group Grows Sydney & Melbourne Sales Teams
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

Shopper Media Group Grows Sydney & Melbourne Sales Teams

Shopper Media Group (SMG) has continued to grow its Sydney and Melbourne sales teams to keep up with the demand for Smartlite Panels for shopping centres. Ashley Munro joins SMG as group sales manager for Sydney, having previously worked in a similar role at NOVA Entertainment. Laura Mason has been appointed as SMG’s business manager […]

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 14:  Usain Bolt of Jamaica competes in the Men's 100 meter semifinal on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
  • Advertising
  • Media

Olympics, Census Prove Tough Hurdles For Media Agencies: SMI

Australia’s media agency market has experienced another tough month in August, according to the latest data by Standard Media Index (SMI). SMI noted the softer demand this time around was primarily due to the Rio Olympics and Census providing abnormal bookings last year, resulting in demand for August 2017 so far being back 12.1 per […]