Campaign: The Business of Funny

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TBS is up to more funny business in a new campaign from Mother/New York. More specifically, it's getting down to the business of funny, introducing the network's Department of Humor Analysis after 2004's look inside the call center, a campaign from Publicis/N.Y. that won praise and awards. The new campaign's cinema, broadcast and viral videos, directed by Thomas Thomas' Kevin Thomas, show a tour of the department and its research, led by John Cleese. "The first nut to crack," says Mother creative director Paul Malmstrom, "was to get around the pressure that the campaign is like saying a joke is funny before you tell it. Our way around that is to say it in a very dry and scientific way. It just got much easier to not overthink it too much." The spots introduce Cleese as tour guide and use TBS shows like Seinfeld, Friends and Sex and the City to note traditional comic conventions such as the pie in the face, and the ball to the um, balls, while interactive and print executions focus on a "Comprehensive Study of Humor and Humorousness." Online, users can take a test that asks questions like, "Who walks into a bar?"; outdoor executions beg for graffiti with exercises that ask audience members to point out the funniest place to be hit with a ball or the funniest person to be pooped on by a pigeon.

Creative Dave Clark, who worked closely with Rory Hanrahan on the campaign, takes the meta-funny to another level by noting that the research questions such conventions. "They've been funny forever," says Clark. "But should they be?" For those anticipating the results of the study, "We're collecting the data, but what will be done with it is confidential," says Malmstrom.

Client: TBS Agency: Mother/N.Y. Director: Kevin Thomas/Thomas Thomas Films Editor: Mike Douglas/Cut & Run Graphics: Stardust Studios

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