I contemplated the theme for this mid-summer article while I was prepping my beach reading list, looking for easy, engaging and entertaining material to replenish my brain while my body rests waterside. This is important work for me as research has proven that we need to take mental-breaks to avoid the pitfalls of over-thinking. Thinking too much, it seems, makes us dumber and less productive.

Over-thinking advertising can also make brands dumber and their communications less effective. 

We know from behavioral science that people appreciate stimuli that are easily processed by the brain, yet we too often ask consumers to decode complex messages. Top-of-mind awareness (which drives salience) is arguably the most important role of advertising, yet we too often distract audiences by packing in too much information; breaking-through the ad-clutter to even get noticed is harder than ever, yet we too often fail to offer consumers anything worth paying attention to.

In the spirit of summer reading for advertisers, I offer an antidote to over-thinking-advertising in what I hope is an easy, engaging and entertaining manner – sung to the tune of Cole Porter’s 1948 classic, Be a Clown.

I’ll remember forever,

When I was but three,

Mama, who was clever,

Remarking to me;

If, son, when you’re grown up,

You want ev’rything nice,

I’ve got your future sewn up

If you take this advice:

Be a clown, be a clown,

All the world loves a clown.

Brands well-liked, ads that thrill,

Drive consumers to make the deal.

So get their attention,

With dazzling content that’s fun.

If you sell like the others, who’s to say where they’re led.

If your pitch is System 2, all your adverts they’ll shred.

You’ll be sure to convert if you create bonds instead.

Be a clown, be a clown, be a clown.

Be a clown, be a clown,

All the world loves a clown.

Be completely unique,

And to your shop they’ll all flock.

Other brands all like,

At your success they will balk.

A parity product can’t hope to prevail.

A brand like the others can be sure to fail.

They’ll all come to you if yourself you unveil.

Be a clown, be a clown, be a clown.

Be a clown, be a clown,

All the world loves a clown.

Life is stressful enough,

Without being sold lots of stuff.

Complications arise,

When they’re oft told what they should buy.

An ad that asks them to think makes them feel like a rube.

A message that’s full of facts makes them turn off the tube.

But an advert that’s fun leaves them feeling renewed.

Be a clown, be a clown, be a clown.

Be a clown, be a clown,

All the world loves a clown.

Postmodern consumers,

They all want witty ads.

Irony, comedy,

They’re not just passing fads.

Why pretend like they don’t know that you’re selling to them?

Why would you dismiss self-aware ads as a silly trend?

When crowds love an ad that makes them laugh at the end.

Be a clown, be a clown, be a clown.

Be a clown, be a clown,

All the world loves a clown.

The content they consume,

Has so dramatically improved.

While the ads they must watch,

Are all in their mind a big splotch.

If you don’t up your ad game, your messages they’ll block.

If your stories can’t improve, at your brand they will balk.

But jack you won’t lack when to your fun ads they flock.

(Quack, quack, quack, quack)

Be a clown, be a clown, be a clown.

Marketers and agencies, take some advice from me and Cole Porter this summer: Create advertising that is likable, differentiates with personality, and provides consumers a respite from their stressful lives. It should be as good as modern TV they so readily watch and, most importantly, treat your post-modern consumers to the wit, irony and creativity they deserve.

(Special thanks to Aristomenes Spanos for his lyrical genius)

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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