Is Weird the New Brilliant?

By Remy Pacini

Assistant Opinions Editor

Photo courtesy of Doug Garth Williams

Sour Patch Kids. Burger King. Starburst. Little Baby’s Ice Cream. What, besides being food products, do all of these names have in common? All of these companies have run ad campaigns that are incredibly, and I mean incredibly, weird and even creepy. Take the commercial aired by the Philadelphia-based ice cream company called Little Baby’s Ice Cream.

In its most notorious commercial, a being that appears to be a person made out of vanilla ice cream stares at the camera and scoops ice cream out of its own head and, smiling creepily, eats it. While this morbidly bizarre spectacle is unfolding, the somewhat monotone and deep-voiced narrator describes how the “Ice cream is a feeling!”

To see what I mean, I suggest following the link provided here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erh2ngRZxs0

Seeing this ad made me think about why a company would rely on such horrifying imagery to market their product. My best guess for this phenomenon? Because weirdness, in theory, gets attention, and, as a result, attention for this product means increased sales.

Think about it: if someone were to see the Little Baby’s Ice Cream commercial, or the incredibly bizarre ads that Starburst released to promote its “Berries & Crème” flavor, which starred a creepy looking man dancing around in a Victorian outfit, they would probably want to show someone what they just witnessed.

For your convenience, here is the aforementioned Starburst commercial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYX_zhlTDr8

In theory, given the highly competitive and ruthless world of marketing, products and their ads need to stand out from the others in order to be noticed. Thus, this is the question that needs to be asked: is weird the new brilliant for commercials?

In my opinion, the answer would be a solid yes. As previously mentioned, due to the attention that these commercials bring to the companies and their products, these bewildering commercials are what set these products apart from their competitors. However, not only commercials fall into this way of thinking, since television shows and some movies also adhere to this rule.

Consider the hit shows “Rick & Morty” and “The Venture Brothers” for instance. What made both programs into the popular ratings powerhouses for Adult Swim that they are is just how undeniably weird both shows are. By being so weird, these shows gain audiences who spread exposure to these shows via word of mouth, thus attracting more people who want to see what all the excitement and hubbub is about.

So, is being weird the new way of being brilliant? Yes, but it all depends on the circumstances. If there is too much weirdness, the product can tank and fail miserably, as was the case with Peeps Lip Balm. Thus knowing when and how to use weirdness to its maximum potential in turn is a sign of how to be brilliant for gaining a potential consumer’s attention.

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