Every once in a while, you see an advertisement that makes you go “what the $#^& did I just watch?” Sounds like you’ve been served up some Oddvertising. Strap in because adHOME Creative is taking a closer look at what exactly oddvertising is and what makes it successful.
What is Oddvertising?
Well, it’s exactly as it sounds. Oddvertising was created by combining the words “odd” and “advertising” and is often used to describe adverts that are strange in nature… but I think that goes without saying.
There has to be more to it than that, though, right? No doubt. Adverts can’t just be weird for weird’s sake, they have to have structure; and like every good advertising approach, Oddverts also follows a certain structure that can be followed to help achieve successful results from the targeted audience.
Breaking Down The Oddities
There are a few layers to consider when approaching an Oddvert: the setting and the story. This sounds fairly simple as all ads/commercials should consider both; but when dealing with Oddverts, these two factors can either make or break the outcome of your creative.
The Scene: Oddverts should
- Have a deadpan tone.
- The characters are acting like the alternative reality is normal
- The subject of the commercial must be relevant to the brand and be appropriate for the target demographic
There’s an amusing situation that’s visually captivating
- A bizarre variation is added
- ….an even more bizarre variation is added.
- There’s an ending grab line or product/brand plug
- And finally, a topper [usually]
Combined, these two factors [usually] create layers and layers of engaging storytelling that make the commercial/product/brand more appealing. For example, let’s break down a classic commercial from Old Spice we all know and love, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” a 30-second spot from Craig Allen and Eric Kallman of Wieden+Kennedy, featuring Isaiah Mustafa.
As we can see, the structure to this ad isn’t the classic set-up and then a punchline, but a series of quick monologues. Like the structure above, this commercial introduces us to a strange world that is normal to our main character, Mufasa, as he can easily move from one fantasy to another with ease (suggested in the unbroken shot.)
It’s visually amusing (following that weird, weirder, weirdest structure) and keeps the viewer engaged all the way up to the product benefit or grab line “[…] anything is possible when your man smells like Old Spice and not a lady.”
For a moment, we think that’s the end of that and let our guard down before being delivered the final blow, the hilarious topper “I’m on a horse.” Though simple, it is probably one of the funniest lines delivered and really pulls the entire experience together to a finish.
But that’s all talk, how do we KNOW it was a success? The Man Your Man Could Smell Like results:
This video drove nearly 105 million YouTube views during the campaign alone and delivered 1.2 billion earned media Impressions, including features on national broadcast networks and international media outlets
Old Spice also saw a 2700% increase in Twitter followers (yes… you read it right), an 800% increase in Facebook fan interactions, and a 300% increase in traffic to their website. That sounds like a success to me!
However, sometimes this doesn’t work for everyone, or the marketers miss a key component of what makes the Oddvert truly successful. This usually happens because the Topper is missing, like in this Realtor.com commercial, “Dream Bathroom.”
As we can see, it’s set up similarly to “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” but it feels like it’s missing something to pull it all together. It had the structure, deadpan tone, appropriate audience, final slogan plug…. but no topper. It feels like the ad just sort of ends, which causes the gags to come off undercut and the ending falls flat.
This next oddvert, though incredibly minimalist, was still quite a successful one.
Casper Mattress – Sleep Hotline
Next time you can’t sleep, try it! The number still works and it’s definitely worth a quick call. So what exactly is going on? In 2017, Casper Mattress released a commercial aimed at insomniacs (or those who just couldn’t fall asleep). Airing between 2 am to 5 am on 13 cable channels in the US, Casper’s unbranded, 15-second spots were a mix of the calming lo-fi music, overlaid on top of stock karaoke videos with the copy “Can’t Sleep? Call 888-890-2040”
And here’s what you can expect. Dialing the 888-890-2040 will connect you to a British man named John, who will give you Nine options to pre-recorded sounds. The sounds are:
- Press 1 to hear the sounds of the ocean.
- Press 2 to hear wind chimes blowing in the wind.
- Press 3 to travel back in time to the 1990s. [dial up noise…]
- Press 4 to undergo hypnosis.
- Press 5 for a motivational speech. [right before she gives you the answer to the meaning of life the phone cuts out]
- Press 6 for a grandma who misses you.
- Press 7 to learn the history of the cocktail wiener. [which is apparently very boring]
- Press 8 to hear Jaleel White who played Steve Urkel on Family Matters sing you a lullaby.
- Press 9 to merge into the conference call with the marketing team who came up with this idea.
If you stick around long enough John will talk to you… he won’t understand why you can’t sleep but if you stick around long enough he might tell you about his mistresses… just a John and his mistresses.
The goal of the commercials was to “couple the escapism of sleep with the bizarre nature of dreams, and the eerie solitude of late-night insomnia […] We wanted to catch people during overnight hours with hypnotic and surreal creative, so it was produced in a way that fit right in with the offbeat commercials of 3 a.m.,” Casper’s vice president of communications and brand engagement, Lindsay Kaplan, told AdWeek.
Though it doesn’t exactly follow the structure we’ve talked about with Old Spice, of course adverts aren’t always cut and paste; Casper knew their audience, they made it eye catching and odd, they made it fun and engaging to those who followed through.
The Results: people are still talking about it. When “odd ads” is Google’d, this is one of the first commercials to pop up as an example.
However, odd commercials aren’t always a huge success… especially when it’s just odd for odd’s sake. That doesn’t always translate into good attention.
Quiznos – The Spongmonkeys
Take Quiznos during the early 2000’s, for example. For a short while, Quiznos featured the obnoxious internet famous characters the Spongmonkeys, which were popular at the time with a much younger audience thanks to the song “We Like The Moon” created by Joel Veitch in 2003.
Though the commercial was memorable to this day… it was a huge flop. Why? Well, besides how annoying the commercials were, it didn’t tailor to the right audience.
The audience who enjoyed the video “We Like The Moon” would hands down love this commercial… but they were still too young to be Quiznos main consumer! And those who were old enough to be Quiznos’ primary consumers didn’t get it and were turned off by the obnoxious ad approach.
So, the generation introduced to the internet at a young age would have loved this as adults (which actually made the video go viral again 15 years after it was posted) but instead, Quiznos jumped the gun a bit and made a commercial for an audience who… just didn’t get it yet.
Fun fact: The term “spongmonkey” originated on b3ta.com. “Spong” is a popular term from b3ta that means “The practice of adding large staring eyes with small pupils to an image”.
Quiznos, of course, has never been averse to weird advertisements, though. Just take a look at this next one with a little extra… Bazinga.
This is the 2003 “Raised by Wolves”, featuring Jim Parsons, and is often referred to as the commercial that Quiznos wished they never aired. Yikes!
Mountain Dew – Puppy Monkey Baby
In 2016, when the marketing group from Mountain Dew got together to brainstorm its Super Bowl commercial, they got weird with it and smashed together three of the Internet’s favourite things: puppies, monkeys, and babies… The result? The “Puppy monkey baby” commercial, where a little creature in a diaper jumps around and licks people’s faces to encourage them to drink Mountain Dew Kickstart.
The ad features a few guys hanging out on a couch talking about how tired they are before a monkey/pug/baby thing from “The Island of Doctor Moreau” comes through the wall, clunks down an ice-cold bucket of the new Mountain Dew Kickstart drinks and repeats the words “puppy monkey baby” over and over again.
Though incredibly odd, this commercial was ridiculously successful! Rated the #1 Super Bowl commercials of the night, this spot generated 2.2 million online views and 300,000 social media interactions just after airing. It now has 14 million views on YouTube alone, more than any Super Bowl 50 commercial. If you Google it, there’s even a tiny fan club dedicated to the Puppy Monkey Baby and shirts available for sale.
But why did it work so well? It was so weird! Well, you have to admit, they knew their audience well. With the superbowl airing to a majority of young men between their early twenties to mid-thirties who probably need a little extra juice to keep them going after work.
It wasn’t just weird for weird’s sake but was weird with a purpose: The purpose of 3 amazing things being combined into 1. And followed that solid structure that makes oddverts so good. Though the oddvert did lack an obvious Topper, the Puppy Monkey Baby licking the can as the voice-over introduces the product almost combines the grab/product line and topper into one.
Admittedly, it’s an unusual concept and, of course, Twitter had things to say about it.
The Not So Good
But all in all… it’s engagement. People are talking about it and building the creature’s awareness.
Little Baby’s Ice Cream – This Is A Special Time
Speaking of… odd, Little Baby’s Ice Cream goes for nothing if not for weird. From their hand churned ice cream commercials and ice cream flavours (like sriracha or pizza) to owning the largest pizza museum on earth, these creators keep it… Odd.
Little Baby’s Ice Cream started selling ice cream in 2011 and wasn’t long until they received national attention for their 2012 commercial, “This is a Special Time” as it featured a self-cannibalistic humanoid creature made of ice cream, named Malcolm.
During the ad, we watch Malcolm eat himself with a spoon while a narrator speaks in the background about how much Malcolm loves Little Baby’s Ice Cream. It’s incredibly unnerving and bound to leave you feeling uncomfy. Check it out!
Though we couldn’t find any case studies on how this campaign turned out, this video alone received 16,541,259 views on their YouTube Channel and made their physical locations in Philadelphia a huge hot spot all the way up until they closed their doors in for good in 2019.
…speaking of ice cream.
Squatty Potty – This Unicorn Changed The Way I Poop
In 2015, Harmon Brothers created a now-iconic ad for Squatty Potty called “This Unicorn Changed the Way I Poop”, earning 170 million views in social media to date. Basically, what Squatty Potty aimed to do was inform you that… you’re pooping wrong and they want to do something about it.
Before modern plumbing, we used to squat with our knees above our hips in order to go, which was one of the healthiest ways for the body to expel waste. Modern toilets aren’t good for that and the makers of Squatty Potty had a stool-for-stools solution, but how could they get the message across without being laughed at? Well, why not via a small unicorn puppet pooping rainbow-coloured soft serve while a man in 14th century garb explains the benefits of their new and revolutionary product Squatty Potty “No, Squatty Potty is not a joke, and yes, it will give you the best poop of your life, guaranteed,”.
Honestly, at first, this ad seems so ridiculous it almost feels like a fever dream but it worked! The video went viral and by 2018, the company was flush with $33 million in sales.
Why it could have gone so, so wrong
Talking about bowel movements isn’t an easy topic and is one most people tend to be embarrassed to discuss. The Squatty Potty is also aiming to change a societal norm. Since plumbing was invented, most people poop the way we do now, but the Squatty Potty wants to change that… Let’s be honest, that’s a tough nut.
Butt how it went oh so right!
Besides the obvious successful oddvert structure (that is actually VERY similar to The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”) the oddvert approaches the subject matter in a funny, lighthearted way. Thanks to this strategic thinking and execution, the video received over 15 Million views on YouTube the year it was released (35 Million+ in 2018), and over 140 Million views and 1.6 Million+ shares on Facebook. According to the Harmon brothers, about 70% of the audience saw the entire length of the video & 75% of the total views were organic.
Prior to the release of the video, Squatty Potty was only making about $3 Million in yearly revenue but saw a whopping $15 Million+ in revenue the year the video was released. They even had to change 3 production facilities to a 24/7 production schedule.
This campaign even led to a rise in the conversion percentage. Online sales from different platforms saw a 600% increase, while retail stores sales rose by 400%!
WingStop – 420 campaign – Let’s All Go To The Wingstop
Wingstop in the united states is well known for their strange ad approaches, like their wing bouquet around valentines day, so when Facebook presented Wingstop with beta access to their new-at-the-time sequential ads close to April 20th (cough cough) Wingstop saw an opportunity to get odd that they couldn’t resist.
This 24 hour Reach and Frequency campaign utilized sequential ads to tell a story that would, over time, make their consumer audience feel… odd and featured a lineup of food from Wingstop, performing to a restaurant-themed rendition of the classic “Let’s All Go to the Lobby,”
The campaign consisted of 4 individual videos that were played to the audience over time… in a sequence (above, the 4 individual videos have been combined into one and are played one after another) As you can see, every time the audience was presented with a new video, it would get slightly weirder.
This was done to imitate the feeling of hallucinating or tripping. The goal? For the audience to not only crave these tasty treats by the end but to also second guess what they were seeing, make them feel high, and most importantly engaged. Each ad got weirder and weirder, using bright colours and surreal imagery to tell a story and capture the audience’s attention…
So how did they accomplish this without having to constantly monitor, remarket and redeliver ads over and over again? Like we mentioned above, they used Facebook Sequential Ads.
Reach and frequency buying has a sequencing tool that allows you to arrange up to 50 ads in a certain order to be shown to an audience. People in your target audience will have the opportunity to see ads in the order you set. For example, ad #1 will be delivered to them before ad #2 is delivered. It doesn’t allow you to control whether or not a person has to have engaged with the content you are showing in order to see the next ads in your sequence.
Sequence your ads when you want to tell a story or present information to people in a specific order. For example: If you want to build a narrative with your ads, you can show one ad that tells the beginning of the story first and then show additional ads afterward that continue to tell the story in a set order. Your audience will see ad #1 before they see ad #2, and so on.
All in all, odd adverts really can be a successful tactic, as long as your oddvert isn’t just weird for weird sake. Follow the structure of some of the greatest oddverts of all time and create the story you know is going to work best for yours.
Not sure where to start? Send us an email and we’d be happy to brainstorm some strange ideas with you!