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A Madison Avenue Ad Guy I Actually Like

May 4th, 2005 by Bob Bly

At first glance, Richard Kirshenbaum ? co-chairman of Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners ? is not my kind of guy.

He dresses too cool, has long hair, and runs a trendy NYC ad agency focusing on branding. Yuch!

So I was pleasantly surprised when, in an interview with Psychology Today (4/05, p. 34), he had this to day about humor in advertising:

?Humorous ads are troubling because you have to create a link to the product and its benefit. Often, people remember a funny ad but they don?t remember the product.?

I now have a growing admiration for Richard, and think his assessment is spot on ? really clever or funny ads become memorable as ads, but often do squat for product sales.

What do you think?


This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 4th, 2005 at 9:05 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

244 responses about “A Madison Avenue Ad Guy I Actually Like”

  1. Bruce DeBoer said:

    I think Richard is not the only one in the ad world who thinks this way: many do.

    He’s right.

    A funny ad that makes a connection to the brand is a home run though. The Nationwide ads tagged, “Life Comes at You Fast” is a good example of this. They are funny with a strong tie in.

  2. Peter Stone said:

    Humor is a very…very serious business. 🙂


  3. Peter said:

    Looking at the most recent Super Bowl series I’d say this is entirely true. Quite a few companies went gung-ho on one-dimensional “comedy” spots that didn’t make the connection between the humor and the product.

  4. Merely Human said:

    Effectiveness aside, I’ve noticed that even the memorability of humor in advertising is beginning to trail off. Have any of you seen the car ad with the men dressed up in black? They are all laying down face-up on a tan-colored surface when the ringleader says “Ok, Look alive!”, and they all stand straight up. The camera zooms out and all the men in black become little hairs on the driver’s arm demonstrating how exhilerating the ride is supposed to be. If you havn’t seen it, you probably can’t appreciate the surprising humor of it, but it caught me off guard and I don’t usually respond to humor in commercials. This one was cute. Anyways, I have a point. Two of them, actually. 1.) That after viewing that exceedingly clever bit of advertising a couple times now, I don’t even remember the name of the car featured in the ad. And 2.) that the ad (not the car) will remain memorable up until the point they stop playing it or another funny ad takes center stage in my short-term memory. And the cycle continues, with funny advertisements blunting the effectiveness of subsequent funny advertisements until they don’t even get noticed. Ever been around someone who’s overbearingly funny to the point of exhaustion? Yeah.

  5. Milton Drepaul said:

    I agree. One of the things that annoy me about some ads in Canada is the effort to be funny. People are sometimes thrown off because they cannot see the connection to the ad.
    I doubt whether a company wants to annoy a potential customer.

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    I seemed to remember quiznos well enough after their ads with those singing rat-like things. I think I even visted them once or twice afterward.

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