A bald man certainly would not be the first choice that comes to mind for advertising a haircut service, but Supercuts just proved that such a choice can be extremely effective. In the salon chain’s latest marketing campaign, actor Michael Kelly urges viewers to take proper care of their hair at Supercuts. “Look at you, laughing and flipping and brushing your days away, unaware of how lucky you are,” he says wistfully. Not only does he make the advertisement humorous, but he also reveals a need many were unaware they had. How many of you were walking around, forgetting that what is hair today, may be gone tomorrow?
While not all of us may be superfans of Supercuts, this ad is truly a cut above the rest. Why? They relied upon an underutilized strategy: irony. Though the element of irony may not appear that often in marketing, it can be highly effective in creating stand-out content and producing engagement. Here are three reasons why you should consider employing irony in your next marketing campaign.
1. Proper use of irony is a great attention-getter
Perhaps the strongest reason to use irony in your advertising is that it can be a great attention-getter when executed correctly. Incongruence makes the viewer curious to uncover the true purpose of the advertisement, which keeps them watching all the way until the end. Another highly effective example is this Halloween Pepsi advertisement (which Coke was able to turn to its own benefit later!).
2. Irony can create a compelling call to action more effectively than traditional marketing strategies, particularly with less sexy topics.
Consider, for example, this safety promotion video from the NZ Transport Agency and Clemenger BBDO. The first minute of the clip features a montage a people using their phones – posting, liking, matching, texting, snapchatting – you name it. Notification sounds and shots of screen-lit faces flash by faster and faster until suddenly – it stops. We see a woman in her car. She sets her phone down, takes a deep breath, and the advertisement reminds the viewer: Let your car distract you from your phone.
Typically, PSAs, safety videos and the like tend to be bland or too severely serious. However, by using irony in its approach, the NZ Transport Agency advertisement avoids being preachy, while getting its message across.
3. Irony can serve as a highly effective foil for humor.
Many of the best ironic ads are also quite humorous. Those of you who watched the Supercuts ad likely watched until the end because it made you laugh. Humorous ads create an enjoyable experience for the viewer, making them more likely to remember the clip and view it positively, and ideally promoting more positive engagement with the advertiser.
While it may feel counterintuitive, when used properly, irony can be a highly effective marketing tool by grabbing attention, demonstrating a need, and adding humor to your content.