Your audience is stoned
From Cheech and Chong in the 1970s through to recent Judd Apatow films, we all recognise there’s a cinematic genre best enjoyed under the influence: “stoner movies”. And we all know that most music genres – from jazz through psychedelia, metal, hip hop, house and electronica – sound best when your mind is altered by booze, blunted by weed, or tweaked by a chemical substance.
Yet we never openly talk about ‘stoner ads’, which is curious as they are some of our industry’s most successful.
Think about the most talked about, viral, socially shared, creatively awarded, and Effie winning advertising efforts of recent(ish) times:
● Old Spice Guy
● Cadbury Gorilla
● Kia Soul’s Hamsters
● Budweiser’s “Whassup?”
● Burger King’s “Wake up with the King”
● Toohey’s Extra Dry “Tongue”
What do they all have in common? They’re ads that penetrated popular culture precisely because, when viewed three sheets to the wind or three tokes towards Zion, they blew your mind.
“Oh wow… that tongue is hopping down the street, bro…”
I’d argue that much of the success of viral YouTube clips is explained by the stoner effect, too… but that’s another matter.
Need convincing that a large chunk of your TV viewing audience is under the influence? According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 78% of Australians aged 12 and older self-reported to drinking booze in 2010, most of them on a weekly basis. 15% said they used illicit drugs in 2010, mostly marijuana. (Self reported data is notoriously unreliable, and my guess is the real figures are higher than what people will admit to a researcher. Further, cut the data 18 years and above and the percentages likely go up.) Where is much of this booze and weed consumed? Flopped on the couch at the end of a long day in front of the telly. Your audience is stoned.
Most advertising “insights” are banal, generic, concoted for a casestudy, or made up as a post-rationalisation to sell creative. They’re intellectually worthless and often creatively useless. But knowing your TV audience is intoxicated – and developing creative and planning media with it in mind – is both true and creatively helpful.
Yes your target audience might be “lean-forward early adopting social sneezers who watch TV ads surrounded by their social graph and use brands to badge to potential partners how shagable they are”. But here’s a better place to start: They’re stoned!
Appeal to that mindset and you’ll cut through. They’ll remember you. They’ll talk about you. They’ll share you on Facebook and Twitter.
If you’re with me on this Yellow Submarine ride, “the audience is stoned” insight means the key question for getting to great work is to ask yourself, WWJAD? (What Would Judd Apatow Do?) Then go from there…
Tom Donald is planning director at The Works