Leave ’em Laughing

Most of us have heard the phrase “Laughter is the best medicine,” and there’s some truth behind the saying … even if a good orthopedic surgeon does come in handy every so often.

But humor can also be used to help an organization connect with an audience in a busy media environment. This can be seen in national advertising campaigns from Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Man in the World” to the anthropomorphic M&M’s characters and many more.

However, humor can also be used to to draw attention to smaller campaigns. Pathfinder Films in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is a small video production company founded in 2015 that specializes in video production for small companies and nonprofits.

“One area that we’ve grown in [is the] area of doing comedic pieces,” Pathfinder founder and CEO Leif Ramsey said in an interview with Nooga.com. “That was definitely pretty new for us and definitely an area we wanted to get into.”

Pathfinder brought their comedic sense to an area not known for using comedy: the often-bland chamber of commerce video. Ramsey and his team developed a concept for the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce to take a chance on using humor to sell the midsize Southeastern city to businesses looking to relocate.

To establish a unique marketing position for Chattanooga, the Pathfinder team highlighted the area’s outdoor scenery and its unique distinction as the city with the fastest internet speeds in the United States thanks to the fiber optics system owned and operated by municipal utility EPB.

The result was the “Chattanooga, Literally Perfect” campaign featuring clueless announcer Mr. Perfect telling humorous stories of (made-up) entrepreneurs making the move to Chattanooga and loving it.

“What I love about this is that the Chamber and Pathfinder are essentially making fun of the city and its residents while promoting it at the same time,” Nooga.com business reporter Chloé Morrison said. “The Literally Perfect videos capitalize on a truth, which is that business and government leaders love to highlight all the ways Chattanooga is better than other cities.

“People here, including myself, genuinely love the city and often can’t stop talking about it, especially to newcomers. This campaign captures that perfectly. It’s self-deprecating but does its job too.”

The unique take on the chamber of commerce PSA worked, attracting viewer engagement online and stories in local and national news media. Pathfinder followed the initial campaign by inserting the memorable Mr. Perfect character in a musical spoof of the hit film “La La Land” called, you guessed it, “Cha Cha Land.”

The result of taking a chance and using humor was a big success that helped Chattanooga differentiate itself from bigger cities and culminated with the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce being named 2017 Chamber of the Year and winning a Grand Award for Communications Excellence from the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives.

When developing a creative strategy for your client, don’t forget that comedy can help your brand stand out in the crowd. A little humor, when used strategically, can go a long way.

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9 Responses to Leave ’em Laughing

  1. Stacy Miros says:

    Hi, Jim,
    First, I had no idea that Chattanooga is the “gig city.” That is an impressive title to have. Humor can be tricky in advertising since everyone has a different consideration of what he or she finds funny. These videos push the line just a bit. However, they do a great job of making people pause to consider the city and what it has to offer. What might be an interesting connection to these videos are maybe some links to actual real stories of businesses that relocated to the Gig City and how their experience has been.
    Congrats to the Chamber on their award, as well. It is also a nice testament that the best cities for businesses are not always on one of our coasts!

  2. Dena Lawless says:

    Hi Jim, what a find! I had no idea Chatanooga was in the tech industry until this video. This led me to look at their average home price in Zillow. No wonder they are growing with this kind of fun marketing! It’s very engaging and it drives home the point. I agree with you that the use of humor can create awareness and sharing like no other type of marketing.

  3. Larry O. Williams (my account shows up as jrlwilli) says:

    Wow, totally awesome campaign! Great post. At initial glance the last execution seemed most effective. It was also the longest. However I did like the singing theater version as a nice change of pace as a direct campaign towards “the big city.” In addition to the creative and funny songs, the execution told the story and still contained the “tagline”! But what a creative idea to basically push high speed internet and low living expenses. Thank you for introducing us too this.

    • Jim Tanner says:

      Larry,

      The first two spots were introduced a bit over a year ago, and the final one with the musical theme was introduced several months build on the success of the first two videos in a fresh way. On the Pathfinder Films Blog, the company discusses what they call “The Sequel Conundrum” which they describe as the risk of ruining a popular messaging theme by trying to do the same thing over and over. Thus they kept the Mr. Perfect character, but tweaked the format by making it a spoof of a Broadway-type musical. Thus, they continue the popular theme, but add a new twist to keep it from becoming stale.

      Thanks for the comment!
      Jim T.

  4. Paula Manuel says:

    Jim,
    This was a great campaign and one I had not seen. I love well-place ads with great humor infused and they always catch my attention. Seeing these ads made me think of the little boy being interviewed on his first day of school and how it has now been turned into a meme and hilarious ad for eBay.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=US48w_j85LA

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5VIcnXgI_8

    Great job!

  5. Rachel DeLago says:

    Hi Jim, I think I’m still laughing at Cha-Cha Land! There may be a million reasons to consider Chattanooga for a great place to live or even to visit, but using humorous ads provide a personality to the city and grab the attention of future residents/vacationers. Your example of using humor is a great way to invoke emotion and reminds me of an article I read on entrepreneur.com: Effective Marketing Appeals to Emotions Instead of Reason. The article describes the way advertisers can use emotion to cut through the thousands of messages consumers digest in a day and add value to what they are hearing. Nice piece!

    Retrieved from: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/249121

  6. Diane says:

    I love this! I love how creative they got and how it really sparks interest during the investigation stage of the customer path. The humor makes it sticky. I am curious about the result of the campaign. Did it grab new business interest in Chattanooga?

    • Jim Tanner says:

      Diane,

      On the company blog, Pathfinder Films leaders discuss the impact of the campaign and some of the other things the Chamber did to capitalize on the messaging. As for impact, they cite:

      Nearly 100k views on Facebook.
      National press from publications like City Lab calling it a “city branding campaign we can get behind.”
      Facebook reach was up over 2,500%.

      The Chamber featured the campaign on a microsite called chattanoogaperfect.com with more detailed information about the city and what it has to offer, and they even sent crowds to the Chattanooga Airport to welcome real travelers by cheering them as they arrived. All very outside the box and fun.

      Thanks for the comment!
      Jim T.

  7. Faith says:

    Jim I have to agree that using the emotional appeal of humor is a great way to engage audiences universally. The trick is ensuring the humor is not offensive or in bad taste. I loved you highlighted a couple who have successfully integrated it in their campaigns and as a result are one of the most recognizable. Dos Equis elevated themselves and is still riding on the coattails of success of the Most Interesting Man in the World campaign. I also think of Snickers “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign and how humor helped the brand become a cultural phenomenon. This ad campaign was genius as it positioned Chattanooga among notable cities it probably would have never been positioned in. Nashville and Memphis usually are the star cities, but Chattanooga differentiated itself. I thoroughly enjoyed the commercials and it seems like America did too.

    FG

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