brand b2b

Topics: Comedy, Marketing, Forbes Pages: 8 (1800 words) Published: June 26, 2014

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Ekaterina Walter
Ekaterina Walter, Contributor
I write about leadership, business culture, and marketing innovation Follow (150)
ENTREPRENEURS | 12/03/2013 @ 11:49AM |9,202 views
B2B Marketing Doesn't Have To Be Boring: 3 Companies That Effectively Add Humor To Their Marketing Mix Comment Now Follow Comments
Tim Washer quoteThe Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising polled more than 29,000 Internet respondents in 58 countries to measure consumer sentiment on 19 forms of paid, earned and owned advertising formats. 47% of global respondents agreed that humorous ads resonated the most.

But when I started writing this post about using humor in marketing campaigns it struck me that it hasn’t been done that often or that well by brands. It is especially true for the B2B brands. So it stands reason that the few companies that have nailed it stand out far above the crowd. What can we learn from their successful blend of comedy and sales?

Tim Washer is the creator of Cisco’s ‘The Perfect Gift for Valentine’s Day’ video to promote their $80,000 ASR 9000 router. A carrier class router is definitely not the traditional Valentine’s Day gift for that special person in your life, which is why the humorous and original promotional video made it to the New York Times blog and was widely discussed and shared. It is still being talked about now, four years later, as an example of great marketing humor.

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Tim Washer is no stranger to comedy. Being a stand-up comedian himself, a Webby-nominated video producer and corporate humorist, he brings this light touch to his work at Cisco as a social media producer. I asked him about the thinking behind the choice of subject for the router launch video.

‘We wanted to find a fun way to get some attention with our key influencers, analysts, bloggers, and press,” says Washer. “So we thought: wouldn’t it be absurd to position our product as the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for your lover? And that’s what we did.”

Tim knew from the outset that the video was unlikely to lead directly to increased router sales: sometimes the selling cycle is eighteen to twenty-four months for a product like this. Someone’s not going to stumble across a sixty second comedy video and say, “you know what, let’s get a couple of these things.” Instead, he believes in incorporating humor into a wider corporate strategy: “I am a big believer in having a solid global strategy where there’s room for white papers, product information, and demos. But at the same time, if you take a very small part of your budget and say ‘Let’s just entertain people and give our community a gift of laughter without necessarily a call to action,’ others will share your story for you.”

Tim’s philosophy is that humor should elevate a solid marketing message to make it stand out from the crowd and gain a greater exposure. In his experience, a humorous marketing element should still be consistent with the spirit of your brand and the wider themes of your campaigns. “But an occasional humorous video, for example, will help a message stand out among the 100 hours of video content that is uploaded every 60 seconds. A good laugh is a nice gift to give your customers.”

Following the success of the Valentine’s Day router video, Washer has gone on to use his winning formula in further notable campaigns, including a Cisco campaign with a Videoscape (a tool that helps you bring...
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