A peek into our culture, personalities and passions.

A peek into our culture, personalities and passions.

December 21, 2017

5 Marketers Who Managed to Have Some Fun in 2017

By Lynn Ullman

It’s time again for UPBrand to tip our hipster flat-brimmed caps to the advertisers and their agency partners who managed to overcome 2017’s seismic levels of anxiety and have some fun.

Announcing the 2017 Funvertising Awards, known among Agency Insiders as the “Toots.” Here we recognize the marketers who defied the naysayers, planners, the risk-averse and the safety of the status quo to do the riskiest thing of all—have fun in a serious world.

As a reminder to those who may not be Agency Insiders, the “Toots” are named in honor of the late Fred Teutenberg, founder of Dirt Cheap discount cigarette and liquor stores and possibly the funnest advertiser in recent memory. Their brand icon was a giant yellow chicken, inexplicably wearing a striped bathing suit. She ended every commercial with a signature “Cheep cheep, fun fun” tagline. These fine examples of creative were aptly described by the Riverfront Times as “a party in themselves.”



Given to marketers who defy any semblance of conventional wisdom to engage consumers and promote their offerings in the funnest possible way.  

5. “Be the Guy” Campaign For Be The Match Bone Marrow Registry

That GuyNothing warms our hearts more than a cause-related campaign that gets results through laughter. This campaign, created by Minneapolis agency space150, targeted the elusive Millennial Man by inviting him to become “That Guy.” That Guy (and there are many) could be the one who took time to make a video of an epic belch and share it with the world. Or the many That Guys who proudly displayed their artfully shaved back hair online. Or dazzled us by attempting and failing, a skateboard Ollie while on a moving treadmill. Be The Match challenged That Guy to save a life by taking a few minutes to register as a bone marrow donor. And what “That Guy” doesn’t want to be a hero for once in their lives?


4. Advertising to One Person: John Oliver’s Not-So-Subliminal Fake TV Spot

Since the beginning of time—TV time that is—comedians have been producing hilarious fake advertising. Think no further than SNL’s Little Chocolate Donuts spot from 1977. But this Toots winner is technically not a fake ad. It is very real in the sense that Oliver purchased commercial airtime on cable news channels to air decoy commercials, intended to bring our new Commander in Chief “up to speed on some information he may lack,” as stated John Oliver. This particular spot featured an old cowboy spokesman (created before Roy Moore ruined old cowboys) who appeared to be advertising discount catheter supplies. For Mr. Oliver, you could say this was a desperate measure for desperate times. While we take no position on the politics (wink, wink), we applaud the fearless creativity it took to target a single fish swimming in his own pond of hyperbolic cable news—fake or otherwise.


3.  Spotify Play List Campaign

SpotifyWe think there’s something special about an old fashioned, copy-driven outdoor campaign for an entirely digital product that could not even exist without good wifi. For the second year running, Spotify and agency Wieden + Kennedy turned mind-numbing user data into hilarious ad copy, with headlines like “I Don’t Know How to Make a Playlist is a playlist someone made, somehow.” Or, “Don’t Delete This Pooty or I Will End You is a playlist. Be careful, Pooty. They seem serious.” Last year’s campaign featured this gem: “To the 1,235 guys who loved the Girls Night playlist this year, we love you.” That’s right, Spotify, lean into all that spying and data mining you do—we don’t care! At least you’re entertaining us in the process.


2. “Know Your Lemons” Campaign, from Worldwide Breast Cancer

Know LemonsNot all great ideas come from the white, male bastions of the advertising industry. Why should they have all the fun? A simple image of some misshapen lemons in an egg carton and #KnowYourLemons was imagined by Corrine Ellsworth Beaumont—a young designer who lost both her grandmothers to the disease. Shockingly, only 42% of women feel confident they know what changes in their breasts might be dangerous. This campaign got the message out as it went viral—which not so easy to do these days. There’s much to like about this humble approach that managed to float above a sea of pink with information women can really use.


1. Who Knew Cease and Desist Letters Could Be So Funny?

This year’s Golden Toot Grand Prix goes to two very big brands who spun brilliant marketing gold by making a really big deal out of actual “Cease and Desist” letters.

First, Netflix decided they had a problem with an unauthorized “Stranger Things” themed pop-up bar in Chicago. People were flocking to the joint for the opportunity to enjoy cocktails garnished with Eggos, under flickering lights while listening to obscure but familiar 80’s tunes. That was, until the Netflix lawyers got wind of it. They somehow managed to craft an entertaining legal document filled with Stranger Things puns and a thinly-veiled threat to unleash the Demogorgon should they not comply.

Dilly DillyAB InBev had a similarly hilarious (but still serious) response to a Washington state craft brewer, Modist, who named their new IPA “Dilly, Dilly." Macrobrewer AB InBev had no patience for a hipster upstart cashing in on their contrived catchphrase. Yet, while Big Beer held all the legal cards, they were good sports about it. They presented their cheeky, on-theme Cease and Desist missive on a parchment scroll, read by a town crier. They even tossed in two Super Bowl tickets for Modist employees, who will presumably have to compete in a jousting tournament to see who gets to use them. 

Super Bowl tickets may be worth the risk of impalement, but they’re no Golden Toot. Here’s to these brave 2017 Funvertising Heroes who risked it all for good metrics and a few laughs!


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