Nearly all of us are guilty of it, particularly if you’re under the age of 35. We do it at the office, at a friend’s house, with family, or by ourselves. Of course what I’m referring to is pulling up funny videos on YouTube and laughing at them. Silly dogs, cute babies, comedy troupes, and stand-up routines are just some of the many examples of funny videos. (An office favorite is hamsters uselessly spinning in circles on their exercise wheels. Don’t ask why.)
Humor is universal. It connects us to others; it provides a break in the midst of a stressful situation; it releases endorphins which can have some medicinal properties such as pain reduction. It can also be a very effective marketing tool. The mattress company Purple has leveraged the already existing propensity to watch short videos to market their innovative strategy.
Nothing is less memorable than a mattress commercial. Despite their obvious importance, they just don’t seem to make their way into the collective consciousness. They’re expensive, big and rectangular, and if you’re a recent college graduate, you just get a hand-me-down until you can afford one of your own. Every day, while watching TV, we see another red car zipping through rugged terrain, or a couple snuggling happily on a mattress. Who cares?
A few years ago, when my friends and I were all moving into our own places and starting jobs in new cities, thus requiring new mattresses, I found a Purple commercial on YouTube. It featured a real-life Goldilocks testing different kinds of mattresses, all of which were defective in some way, and all failed the “raw egg” test. Watching those raw eggs break over and over in slow motion was mesmerizing. The video claimed that the mattress had patented technology developed by a rocket scientist. Rocket science, you say? Go on. You can sleep on rocket science? I want one! Suddenly, mattresses are fun and cool.
Last year, Purple took things in a bit of a crazier direction and sponsored a campaign called the “Purple Boys” which features a silly talk-show style format with low-budget special effects that harken back to the 80s. Purple has now taken their humor even more seriously: they are joining forces with JK! Studios to sponsor a 10-video series. Dan Bischoff, senior director of acquisitions at Purple told me, “We have some serious technology that’s different from anyone else out there…but we also know you have to be entertaining as well as educational. We like to experiment with all kinds of things…We spend money toward what converts, and we don’t spend money toward what does not convert.” It sounds simple, but it’s been effective for purple. Experiment, see what works, and keep doing that. Repeat.
JK! Stuidios’s comedy troupe, before joining JK! Studios, did nine seasons on cable called Studio C, during which time a couple of those actors did commercials for Purple. As the relationship progressed, the comedy troupe decided to pivot exclusively to branded content under JK! studios. They created 10 original video for Purple to be premiering on both YouTube and Facebook’s video platform, Facebook Watch. Stephen Walter, CEO of JK! Studios, was cautiously optimistic about the potential success of this partnership, but seems committed to one project at a time.
“People are still learning how to use marketing with regards to video. Facebook makes it particularly easy but, as you know, it’s not always easy to convert someone from a video over to a purchase.” Though Walter did note that branded content is easier structurally than with a studio, so he remains confident in the sketches built for Purple. “Purple made it clear from day zero that [humor] is their brand and this is what they care about, and so for people like us, it’s so great to work with them, because it’s already an easy fit.” Walter continued that Purple seems to get why things work in their marketing strategy, as opposed to blindly experimenting.
Let’s be honest. A lot of marketing copy is dry. Click here for 10 percent off. Save an additional 20 percent with this code. Flat. Boring. It’s okay to infuse some personality into what you’re doing. A great way to break the ice is through humor. Not all marketing budgets have the money for comedy shows, but a sense of humor is probably a necessary tool in the marketer’s toolkit.