Get Schooled by College Humor’s Brand Storytelling

Get Schooled by College Humor’s Brand Storytelling


There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor. –Charles Dickens

When I say, “brand storytelling,” laughter may not be the first thing that comes to your mind. Maybe it should be and here’s why:

Nielsen’s Global Survey of Trust in Advertising recently reported that of the over 29,000 internet respondents in 58 countries, 47% agreed that humorous ads resonated the most. This percentage super-ceded every other type of ad, including family-oriented (38%) and celebrity endorsements at only 12%. (1)

A well-executed ad is a miniature brand story and according to this survey, the people have spoken: a little bit of humor goes a long way.

“Laughter yields a significant ROI,” says Tim Washer, a stand-up comedian, Webby-nominated video producer and Social Media Producer for Cisco. In a recent interview with CMO of Branderati and bestselling author, Ekatrina Walter, Washer spoke about how connection and consistency between your brand and humor can really impact its visibility:

“An occasional humorous video, for example, will help a message stand out among the 100 hours of video content that is uploaded every 60 seconds. A good laugh is a nice gift to give your customers.” (2)

Giving it that “Ol’ College Try” Paid Off…

Online entertainment company, College Humor Media, started up in 1999 as a simple humor website that build its brand slowly from curated viral video content. Gradually, about a year or so into their business, they began to sprinkle in original video content here and there, building on the audience they had already attracted. (3)

The growing popularity of College Humor in the first decade of the new century began to get the attention of, guess who? That’s right. Brands. And, why not? College Humor was entertaining, they had a solid audience and they were excellent storytellers.

Subtle Brand Integration: Blackberry

In my opinion, there is no greater validation you can receive for your efforts than someone wanting to be a part of what you are doing. College Humor was consistently and prolifically producing quality and entertaining content when they got the idea to reach out to Blackberry for sponsorship on a video they had created called “The Start-up Guys.” Blackberry bit.

“The video pokes fun at the constantly changing and sometimes-pretentious vibe of start-up companies, and repeats the iconic BBM beep throughout. Its fun and self-aware, and an opportunity for the brand to be in on the joke while reinforcing their brand. Note that Blackberry’s logo or branding are never seen, but it’s hard to miss the iconic “ding” throughout the piece.” (4)

Branded Entertainment: Vitaminwater

When Vitaminwater came up with the idea for their #makeboringbrilliant campaign, they teamed up with College Humor to create a series of hilarious prank videos. These clips revolve around everyday life events that could arguably be considered mundane or boring.

In “Panhandler Pranks Entire Subway,” for example, the hired “panhandler” turns panhandling on its head by bragging instead of begging about his brilliant instead of devastating life. This is all shot in a real subway full of real people. (5)

But what does it have to do with Vitaminwater? Senior Brand Manager for Vitaminwater, Ryan Robertson, explains it has everything to do with their #makeboringbrilliant campaign.

“We found close to 5 million tweets that used hashtags related to ‘boring.’ So this year, we’ve been calling on people to tells us what’s boring them so we can help make their boredom brilliant.” (5)

Did it work? Shortly after the campaign went live, the “Panhandler…” clip alone racked up 2.3 million views. Take a look at the third clip of the campaign called, “The Art Gallery Prank.”

Best Brand Storytelling: 5-Hour Energy

The 5th annual Advertising Age Viral Video Awards honored College Humor’s 5-Hour Energy “2:30 Horror” with the “Most Shared Video” award. With over 6.9 million shares, this tongue-and-cheek spot erupts into horrific hilarity as office workers who ate the BBQ buffet for lunch fall “dead” asleep at their desks, leaving only one worker standing: the one who drank 5-Hour Energy.

The absurdity of this premise plays on all the typical elements of the classic horror film from the music cues to the gore (which in this case is BBQ sauce.) The message is not subtle but the clever use of humor and parody is something we can laugh with and appreciate. The humor fosters a relatable familiarity and we are won over by the product due to its wit. (6)

“Make ‘em Laugh, Make ‘em Laugh” -

Rod Martin, author of “The Psychology of Humor” points out that, on average, people tend to laugh 17.5 times per day and that a good sense of humor tends to be one of the most highly rated traits when people are choosing friends, lovers or partners. (7)

If humor so profoundly affects our everyday-lives and trust amongst people in our lives, how can we deny its influence when it comes to brand storytelling? We cannot. It is powerful.

When marketing strategy + ability to engage audience + ROI all align, humor will not only elevate awareness and perception of your brand but will also make your C-suite very happy.

So, don’t be afraid to add a little lightness into your next brand story.  At the end of the day, we are human beings telling stories to other human beings, no different from what we have been doing for thousands of years.

Brand Storytelling is vital to the success of your brand because of the connection-building power that it contains. Powerful connections = loyalty and trust, two things you cannot buy but have everything to do with the livelihood of your brand and your ROI. To learn more, click here.

Tweet this: According to @Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising, humorous ads resonate most (47%)! #humor #brandstorytelling

Tweet this: On average, people tend to laugh 17.5 times per day. Use humor in your #brandstorytelling

Tweet this: Expose your #brandstorytelling to a little humor. It is contagious. In fact, it can be downright viral. Just ask @CollegeHumor.

Tweet this: ”Laughter yields a significant ROI.” @timwasher Do not be afraid to use it! #brandstorytelling



2. B2B Marketing Doesn’t Have To Be Boring: 3 Companies That Effectively Add Humor To Their Marketing Mix

3. CollegeHumor’s Jeff Rubin and Streeter Seidell: An Interview

4. Future of Television 2011: College Humor Great Branded Entertainment

5. How Vitaminwater Tricked a Bunch of Bored Subway Riders And Art Lovers ‘Make boring brilliant’ stunts drive video views

6. Advertising Age Honors the Best Brand Storytelling at the 2014 Viral Video Awards

7. The Science of Humor

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