Why “fun” shouldn’t be a bad word in marketing

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Ask the Oxford English Dictionary what it thinks the word ‘fun’ means, and it’ll tell you that it is “behaviour or an activity that is intended purely for amusement and should not be interpreted as having any serious or malicious purpose”.

Unfortunately – and as with most dictionary definitions – that immediately removes all of the fun from the word fun, but if we dig deeper into that sentence, it really does have a point.

Let’s relate it to marketing. If you produce a campaign that features behaviour or activity that’s there purely for amusement and which isn’t linked to anything serious, can it deliver a decent return on investment (ROI)?

Arguably, it’ll have an impact, but can a fun marketing campaign really provide you with tangible results?

No features, or benefits just bants

Can “fun” change things

I think it can, and so do countless other business, both big and small. I know this, because I recently saw the BMW i8 Roadster advert, and it’s bloody hilarious. It’ll also undoubtedly sell a shed load of cars for the German automotive giant.

All they’ve done is poke fun at a competitor. That’s it. No features, benefits or ‘what’s in it for me’ stuff – just a bit of ‘bants’.

If you haven’t seen it, enjoy:


If you’re not familiar with Dieter Zetsche, he’s the outgoing CEO of Daimler, who oversaw Mercedes-Benz. The advert leads you along convincingly by playing out his last day at Mercedes, embracing his team and saying goodbye to the unmistakable marque as his chauffeur-driven S Class takes him home.

The next day, we see his garage door open and Dieter emerge in a BMW i8, following a caption that boldly states, “free at last”.

Commercial rivalry at its best, and proof that marketing can indeed be fun.

Some ideas to get your fun juices flowing

Ok, sorry for the euphemism-laden heading, but hey, this is supposed to be a fun blog post, right?

I hope BMW’s advert has inspired you to have some fun with your next marketing campaign, but if you’re stuck for ideas, I’ve got a few to throw your way.

Nonbody wants to know about your trophy cabinet

1. Experiment without fear

There are of course some no-gos in marketing. Defaming others, telling outright lies, being blasphemous, homophobic, racist, and announcing to the world that you’re going to kill every living kitten unless people buy your product are all very bad ideas. And totally wrong.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment.

Start by not taking yourself too seriously. Serious companies are, on the whole, boring. No one wants to know about your trophy cabinet, how long you’ve been in business or the ‘combined experience’ within your service team.

They want to be entertained and shown something they highly desire. And they probably fancy a laugh, too.

Trust me – the less seriously you take your company, the more likely you are to create marketing campaigns that stick in people’s minds and draw them to your brand.

Influencer fun

2. Bring an influencer on board

It’s an annoying word, I know. Like ‘Brexit’, ‘bants’ (oops, I used that earlier, didn’t I), and ‘literally’, the word ‘influencer’ seems intent on being muttered by anyone with a passing interest in marketing.

Regardless, it’s big business, and influencers continue to shape the way products are marketed and brands are built.

You can grab your own influencers, too (not literally – we’re straying into the no-gos again there); there’s no need for deep pockets or finding people who have a minor connection with a Z-list celeb.

Influencers could be your existing customers, friends or people who have experienced something amazing as a result of your company.

If you find the right influencer, they can add shed loads of humour and fun to your marketing campaigns. And they’ll do so in such a unique, authentic way that people will have no choice but to take note of what they’re saying about your company.

Fun and push buttons

3. Push buttons

In our earlier example, BMW clearly knew how to push its competitor’s buttons (and you can expect a suitable rebuke or witty comeback from Mercedes at some stage). And, they’ve done so in a way that will chime brilliantly with their audience.

Fun marketing is all about pushing buttons, and you can do that by playing on specific emotions.

Eliciting a laugh, cry or even an expletive from your audience is a great way to get them to engage with your brand.

The key thing here is to remember that, when pushing buttons, you’ll make a few enemies as well as friends. So, swallow that brave pill and push away; just be ready for any flack that might head your way shortly after (it’ll hopefully be drowned out by the good stuff).

Cartoons aren't for kids.  Think Simpsons.

4. Use cartoons

If you work in a B2B industry, you’ll probably be all too familiar with boring graphics, rigid logos and infographics that make you immediately want to fall asleep.

Why do we bother creating this stuff if it isn’t going to engage people? Humans are intrinsically visual, which is why having fun with the imagery attached to your brand is a great way to pique the interest of potential customers.

If you’ve got an eBook in mind to write, why not turn it into a cartoon? Want to create a corporate video? Speak to an animator and make it jump off the screen.

Cartoons aren’t just for kids. Think ‘Simpsons’ and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Crack a joke.  Have some fun.

Final thought

Fun marketing is about far more than simply cartoonifying your logo or sending out a few racy tweets.

As I’ve hopefully demonstrated in this blog post, to have fun with marketing, you need to be brave yet sensible and prepared for the people you’ll inevitably upset along the way.

The takeaway today really is a simple one, though – experiment. Bad, unfunny marketing campaigns are quickly forgotten in this fast-paced world, so any mistakes you make along the way can be learned from.

Send out marketing campaigns you’d want to engage with. Take a measured swipe at the competition. Crack a joke. Have some fun. I dare you.

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