While in Seoul, South Korea, I came across one of the most hilarious, yet basic, advertisements I have ever seen on a billboard. After seeing Mister Churros banner ad on his Kiosk, I could help but laugh and take a picture with the intent of sharing this humour with everyone else later. Here is what it read. “LOVE CHURROS! I have a Chinese girlfriend. To marry her as soon as possible, I’m working hard today.” I was in stitches.
How had he come to promoting his product with sympathetic humour? What was his advertisement going to say when he married is girlfriend? “LOVE CHURROS! I married a Chinese girl. To have kids with her and keep her happy, I’m working hard today?” What more was going to read after he had kids? “LOVE CHURROS! I had kids with a Chinese wife. To keep her happy and send the kids to school, I’m working hard today?” You can see what I am getting at here but hold your horses because I actually think this advertisement is genius, and here’s why:
1. It made me laugh
I connect well with humour and it peaks my interest because the person telling the joke managed to identify with me in understanding what makes me laugh. Naturally what follows is I want to know more, however it didn’t end up making me try one of his churros.
2. The person who saw it before me, shared it with me.
While we were both there, I hadn’t noticed the ad and probably would have walked right past it. One of my friends however noticed it, found it funny and HAD to share it with me and the rest of our company. Comedy is the most natural strategy to go viral.
3. I took a picture of it, to share later.
While I did mention that I didn’t eat any of Mister Churros products, I did take a picture of it to share with my 500+ Facebook friends. Those in turn might react and create some chatter over it, allowing more of their friends in their friends list to see that post. All the while this is happening, Mister Churros web address is plastered all over that picture. Some excellent brand awareness marketing here coming from the offline world to the online world.
4. It is low cost advertising
I don’t think this banner cost Mister Churros a bomb to make, in fact most business along that street all had banners so he probably had to make one to stand out or fit in anyway. With this comedy strategy however, he managed to make me remember his banner and desire to capture the moment with my camera. That is special because I didn’t do that with any other businesses along that stream and you can be guaranteed that there some businesses there with bigger marketing budgets.
5. He identified his target audience
Now I understand that not everyone will find it funny, and not everyone will identify or buy his products because of his sympathetic marketing strategy. However, he is banking on the fact that there is an age group like mine that enjoys game-fication of everything mundane in the world, including eating, that might just be willing to give his product a try even if it is only once. Multiply that over the days and he just might be alright, even if he doesn’t change his product catalogue or even if his product is average at best.
His marketing will do a lot of heavy lifting for him here.
6. Globalisation measures: Translation
Speaking of understanding ones target audience, he translated his banner’s message in 3 different languages. This showed me that the man understood the foot traffic that passes through, not only his lane, but his city & country. He didn’t want to miss any large group of people in dialect that would see his banner not getting his message. A nice touch there was definitely seeing Chinese as a translation there as he is talking about a Chinese girlfriend after all.
7. Setting up customer engagement
In reality, I doubt Mister Churro will update his banner to say anything different even if he marries his “Chinese girlfriend.” Even if someone asks him to account if he has married his girlfriend, he has achieved yet another goal, that is engaging his customer in more than a sale. He has got them in conversation and actually building rapport with him. Now he won’t just be another salesman with a product to sell, but one with a story to remember too, no matter what the outcome is. That’s genius!
Conclusion: Comedy in Advertising – Lessons from Mister Churros
Mister Churros is my marketing hero, especially considering what he has managed to do within his means. I have seen everything from a small signs to big budget television ads, from Africa, America, Australia to Asia and none are as personal and funny as his. With more and more agencies exploring the potential of comedy in viral advertising, I think Mister Churros is right on the money here.
Here are some TED talks on comedy & advertising to watch:
Life lessons from an ad man – Rory Sutherland
Comedy is translation – Chris Bliss
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