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Absurdist Advertising

Recently advertising is taking a turn towards the absurd… well I shouldn’t say recently, advertisers have always pushed the envelope as far as unconventional humor goes, but you typically only saw this approach with smaller brands that were more flexible and willing to take risks.

I’ve posted one print campaign and three separate tv commercials from major brands to exemplify my point.

Orbit Gum:

Beautiful Teeth
Emerald Nuts:

Old Spice:

Hot Pockets:

There are two benefits immediately apparent in this style of marketing:

  1. It is, or can be, dirt cheap.
  2. It is very effective with mellinials (god how I loath that word, but it’s very apropos in this instance)

One warning though, it is much easier to execute this style in video rather than in print.

I would be curious to know what all of you think of this?

A little something for the kiddies.


If you work in a higher education setting, chances are you’re going to need to address a younger audience. Take a look around at what is connecting with your target demographic, what resonates with them, most likely isn’t what resonates with you, no matter how “in-touch” you feel you are.

If you take a minute to look around, you can find inspiration from the strangest places, try the Cartoon Network. Their late night schedule called Adult Swim has a target audience of 18 to 34 year-olds (sounds like a familiar demographic).
Combining sophisticated graphics and an adult-oriented sense of humor (as much as is allowable on basic cable) their ratings have soared to astronomical heights; currently they are rated number one in their time-slot on basic cable.

Taking a cue from some of their top rated cartoons, the designers at Adult Swim have given the majority of their imagery a distinct Japanese slant. Not surprising since Anime (Japanese Animation) has been popular across the board with multiple demographics.

More interestingly, however, the designers have recently begun dabbling in mixing lithograph images from the 50’s with gritty urban scenes to create sophisticated yet upsetting vignettes that harken back to the era of the atomic bomb.

Find it strange that Millennials are connecting to these images? Think about it, Baby-Boomers are the most pervasive force in these Millennials’ lives, there is bound to be some back-lash towards this force.

I’ll leave you with that, feel free to interpret that how you would like.

“Adult Swim” and the images on this page © 2006 Cartoon Network. A Time Warner Company.