The Irony Angle
The value of humor in marketing is something I'd say pretty much everyone gets. But what about the usefulness of humor's weird, pretentious cousin irony? How often is that concept considered for promotions? What about that sub-genre of that sub-genre, what I would call slant or "hipster" irony? You know, that bizarre and sometimes annoying sensibility that makes a 27 year-old scenester man-doofus think it's funny to wear a "Two and a Half Men" T-shirt because he finds it so corny and terrible that it's inconceivable he'd actually advocate the show, thus creating a kind of "joke" in performance art form? How often is that particular form of humor considered for your promotions?
I'm guessing not much. And yet here we are, talking about it. As much as I'd like to indulge myself and babble philosophically about humor while needlessly bashing hipsters, I actually have a practical reason for bringing this up.
Last week a friend of mine returned from a cruise and gave me a small souvenir from her trip. It was two plain pencils, which you can see in the photo viewer top-right, imprinted with the phrase "This is an official JoCo Cruise Crazy Commemorative Pencil." JoCo, or "Jonathan Coulton" as the IRS and any abbreviation-hating fans probably know him, is I guess best described as a folk/alt-pop musician/humorist. Following the irony of the print might be easier if you're familiar with JoCo's sense of humor, which is sometimes subtle and contains sarcasm and irony in decent amounts, but I think the intent of the pencil is clear enough standing on its own. It's that weird mix of kitsch, mockery of modern culture and self-effacing joke that makes it good example of slant irony in promotional form ("good" meaning the funny and clever kind, not the kind that reminds you of the inside of an inde record store).
I don't really have any deep point here, I just thought it was kind of interesting. I don't think I've ever seen an intentionally ironic promotion before, and I thought it might be an interesting angle to approach a future promotion, obviously given the right end-users.
The pencils were part of a swag bag given to all attendees of the cruise. I don't remember everything else that was in the bag, nor do I mean to suggest that the pencils were an overt promotion. The cruise apparently had "artisan pencil sharpening" station where you could get said pencils carved up fancily, so it's entirely possible the pencils were just meant to be fun and have a little joke printed on them. Still, I think the idea of them as a promotion is worthwhile and something to consider for your own work.
Until next week,