I was really pleased to wake up earlier in the week to some light-hearted news; the announcement that Ken Cheng was named winner of the 10th Annual Dave’s Joke of the Fringe competition with his one-liner about a pound coin.
For those who missed it: “I’m not a fan of the new pound coin, but then again, I hate all change.”
It wasn’t so much the joke in isolation that made my day, in fact, I think others in the list were arguably more deserved, it was just refreshing to have something less depressing to focus on than has been the case of late.
As someone who works with the media, the first thing I do is put the television on when I wake up to catch the national BBC news. I then wait for the regional updates before hopping in the car whereby I listen to BBC Radio 2. Once I get to my desk, I start with the online bulletins that I receive through email and then it’s onto the papers.
By this time, as you imagine, I often feel the need for a strong coffee before I can even think about embarking on the to do list.
Of course, PR isn’t really this depressing, we are very fortunate to work on some amazing campaigns and with some fantastic brands. Interestingly, the briefs that we receive often ask that we focus on the experience that a consumer will receive as the result of engaging with a brand or an activation.
I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that I have never been to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival but I would love to go along. The reports have been amazing and I honestly think that as a professional working in the creative sector, it would do me good.
I think we all need to step away from our day to day lives sometime and to let our imaginations run wild. All too often we get stuck behind a desk or embroiled in process and what we really should be doing is sitting back and thinking like children with no barriers or limitations.
There’s no doubt then that many agencies focus on humour. The one thing that makes people feel good is a real giggle. There is no better feeling than laughing so hard you can’t stop and you don’t know why.
Personally, I love a good knock, knock joke from a young relative, not least because more often than not it takes three attempts and we’ve heard it all before!
Now, for a brand to achieve this feeling would be something short of a miracle, but when humour is done well there is no doubt that it captures the imagination and it engages people in a way that is becoming increasingly challenging for brands.
Why did the chicken cross the road…
The stumbling block is typically the same time and time again, agencies try too hard. Rather than keeping it simple, like the one-liners used at the Fringe, creatives come up with concepts that are too convoluted and dare I say it, clever.
What’s so wrong with a simple ‘Why did the chicken cross the road’ gag? Ok, perhaps we need to try a little bit harder.
But, we also need to remember that people don’t have time to stop, think, digest and laugh, it just isn’t going to happen. It has to be quick and as close to spontaneous as is possible. See what I mean about the challenge? Then of course there is the fact that humour is very subjective; something that one person openly guffaws at may have someone else cringing.
Take some of the jokes that are listed; there are without doubt a few that any responsible agency (please notice I didn’t say boring!) would never, ever go near. There is a very real line and although some brands push the boundaries, even they would be hard pressed to think these would be appropriate.
And so, I think there are lessons that we can all learn from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, not least to take a step back, keep it simple and have a laugh. After all, it’s said to be the best medicine and with the ‘summer weather’ this year, I think we’re all in need of a bit of that.