Quirk Tale In The Marketing Game

Does a brand's whimsical marketing approach continue to be its cheat code?

Zomato. Durex. Dunzo. Burger King. Fevicol. Amul. Happydent

If there’s one thing that drives similarity between the above brands, it is quirk. Time and again, their ads have made us wonder if humor or quirk still remains to be marketers’ favorite? Whether topical readiness actually bears sweet fruits? Whether humor in marketing still breeds magic?

The premise of this article rests on the recent episode where Ronaldo removed Coca-Cola bottles from the speakers’ podium and kept it aside, while Coca-Cola happened to be the main sponsor of the tournament. This created a ripple effect where plenty of brands cleverly pitched in, seizing the opportunity brilliantly. 

Here's a quick look through the marketers' lens on how this approach has panned out for brands over the years and how they can level up their humor game in the times to come.

Marketers’ Give A Thumbs Up

Whether through irony or hyperbole or blue humor or deadpan, brands on most occasions have capitalized on these through their content marketing strategies and won over the audiences.

Quirk for most marketers has been the flavor of advertising for the past few decades, having to be one of the most effective ways to connect with the audience. Experts admit that since people are so addicted to the entertainment on their phones today, the only way to grab their attention is by feeding them some more entertainment on a brand page. “Diving into the quirk zone is a pattern that repeats after every few years”, believes Angad Singh Manchanda, CEO & Co-founder, Chimp&z Inc. “Back in the 80s, Bajaj Bulbs took a quirky route with their 'Jab mein chota ladka tha' TVC, and since, year-after-year brands have been investing in quirky campaigns. You've got to entertain if you want to connect with your consumers,” he believes.

Nida Naushad, Head of Brands, CARS24 shares that with everything the world has been through in recent times, it is only natural for brands to craft a quirky personality and put themselves out there to encourage the viewers to pause and spend some quality time. “The light tone and humor integrated in campaign narratives is a much-needed break from the uncomforting updates that shadow various platforms as India fights a devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she adds.

Arvind Nair, Regional Director, Mirum India asserts that humor in marketing is a tried and tested strategy for brands, while they may vary from category to category. However, being topical must not erode originality. “Tapping into what makes consumers laugh can create a more meaningful relationship between a brand and its target audience. Humorous advertising will build a brand’s personality  – it will be accessible in people’s minds and buyable. Emotive advertising campaigns are more likely to create long-term profitable growth as argued by Binet & Field’s,” he says.

However, experts also notice and warn about the fact that brands have now started looking for quirky moment marketing rather than acting on moments worth marketing. In the near future, this manner of trend-spotting will run dry. The audience is smart and will eventually realize the repetitiveness and stop looking forward to any of it, they suspect.

Creative Gratification Or Desire For Attention?

The rationale behind releasing a quirky ad rests on putting your brand out there, making the audience curious, and then selling your product or services to them. 

Brands that have delivered some laud-worthy humourous campaigns have latched on loads of puns, quirks, and pop culture references to stay relevant and relatable to the consumers, even during the inception stage. It’s not just the Gen Zs, but also the uncles and aunties who are forwarding and engaging with the Zomato ads. 

For Jana Colaco, Associate Creative Director, Blink Digital, any buzz is good buzz, even if it means riding on the back of a trend. But, yes, the creative satisfaction is sweet too.

“Quirky ads definitely drive traction and induce actions. However, it is tricky to create such content, but it's even more challenging to create something quirky that has a brand connect and resonates with the brand. With the increasing focus on social media and the booming community of digital creators, it doesn't take much time for the trending bandwagon to start rolling,” informs Manchanda.

Marketers Level Up The Quirk Quotient

Creativity is at its most entertaining when brands connect seemingly unrelated moments back to their products or services. It helps strengthen the brand’s tone of voice and create instant recall in the minds of consumers by virtue of quirks that are unique to that brand.

Humor is great when it works, but the reality is that it can backfire too, and the results can be destructive, leading to broken trust, sales drop-offs, etc.

Naushad advises that companies must ensure their communication is relevant, time-sensitive and impactful.

Saurav Bhattacharya, President- Operations, NHA Division, Ajmal & Sons expounds that while driving traction and grabbing eyeballs is crucial, the quirk has to be in the essence of the brand. “As long as the core is captured, resonating with the ethos of the brand is equally important.”

Colaco also points, “When each day brings a new trending format and moment marketing opportunities are not hard to come by; brands must fight to stay distinctive. While following trends is fun and gets engagement, brands must find their own inner quirk relevant to their audience.”

Experts advocate that the Indian societal setup absorbs and oozes quirks easily, making this route more relatable than anywhere else. It loved connecting love and humor. So, if you are a brand that can create smiles and laughs with your audience, audiences will appreciate it and definitely come back. After all, we could all afford to smile and laugh more.