Humor in advertising is something that is really difficult to pull of – for products like beer, cars or food. But for serious topics, such as erectile dysfunction, cancer or suicide, humor is something that has rarely been used. These are serious topics and ones that should be approached carefully.
However, there is a growing trend that tries to do away with the stigma from some of these issues and tries to approach them from a more lighthearted standpoint. That is what Denver advertising agency Cactus is trying to do with their recent “Man Therapy” campaign.
The campaign is centered around a Ron Burgundy-esque therapist named Dr. Rich Mahogany, and it is targeted to men from the ages of 25 – 64 who are battling depression and contemplating suicide. The focus of the campaign is that men do things differently: we eat differently, we clean up differently – everything we do is different from the way a woman would do it. So if we do everything differently, maybe we do therapy differently as well. It’s always been said that laughter is the best medicine, so maybe this is the wake up call that someone might need to get their life back on the right track.
I poked around the website a bit, and while it is quite humorous and had me chuckling at points, it never panders, and never makes fun of the people who might be going there actually seeking help. It’s a risky campaign – suicide is a very serious subject. However, if I were someone battling depression and a typical suicide-prevention commercial came on the TV, I would pay no attention. I don’t want to go and talk about my feelings. Plus, those commercials and announcements fade into everything else that is around them. However, if I were watching TV and this came on, I has a better chance of catching my eye. Why? Because at first glance, I would have thought this was for a beer, or a restaurant, or something like that – something that was designed to make me laugh. It catches you off guard, and I think that is a really, really good thing, because before you know it, you are paying attention to something that you wouldn’t have given the time of day to before.
I’m interested to see some metrics to see if this campaign is successful. I would think that it would be, and I commend Cactus for trying something as risky as this. If we stop talking about issues like they are a problem, then maybe they won’t be a problem anymore.
Check out this New York Times article on the campaign – it’s pretty enlightening.