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That’s Not Funny

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What makes you laugh? Seth MacFarlane? Bugs Bunny? Amy Schumer? What about our current choices for President? Whether you think it’s all humorous or none of it is – you’re right! Humor is subjective which is why so many people shy away from creativity when it comes to their advertising.

For the record, creativity and humor are not the same thing. A funny commercial can be considered creative. But a creative spot does not have to make you laugh. Look at this commercial by Toyota, advertising the 2017 Corolla. This is wonderfully creative because it establishes an environment for the audience. There is a clear storyline even though there is no announcer and no dialogue – just their tag line at the end. This is an effective use of creativity.


There are many facets to being creative, especially in an audio-only environment such as radio or on-hold advertising. Creativity can emerge as a moment of silence in the middle of a commercial to emphasize a point. The creative use of perspective can bring depth to an ad for an assisted living community. Rather than have an announcer talk about how memories are brought to life, have a resident share about the time he met John F. Kennedy after his speech at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma. Then, add some archival audio from Kennedy’s speech along with music from that era. These are just two examples of how creativity can add life and movement to your message.

We are inundated with a barrage of advertisements every day, and a traditional approach to advertising will meet with resistance every time. Think of creativity as the process of setting the stage for your audience and constructing an environment for them to enter, rather than screaming louder than your competitor in hopes of attracting their attention. Creativity can break through the mental barriers to advertising, providing an enticing door that is opened by the audience themselves.

One of the champions of creativity is Frank Gehry. Gehry is the internationally renowned architect of many eye-catching structures, including the EMP Museum in Seattle and Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. When asked about his creative approach to design, Frank said, ‘I am trying to make buildings and spaces that will inspire people; that will move people – that will get a reaction.’

Gehry’s approach not only works with buildings, it can be applied to the design of your on-hold advertising campaign. Countless businesses miss the importance of this moment in the advertising cycle. (This probably explains why so many on hold programs are boring and repetitive) Remember, you are creating a space for a captive audience. This is not the time for boring. You want an on-hold program that gets a reaction, with advertising that will move your caller and inspire them to act. Creativity provides the door that can make it happen. It also happens to be our specialty.

This time, as you prepare to update your on-hold advertising, take a creative approach. Remember, creative doesn’t necessarily mean ‘funny.’

But if you are looking for a laugh, here’s one for you: How do you make a Kleenex dance?

You blow a little boogie in it.

Tom McTee, Super-Genius
Woodstock Media Group
On-Hold Concepts, Inc.

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