Our clients often ask us to make a video funny and memorable. Something that will make their clients and prospects laugh so hard they will have no choice but to share it. We love these requests because frankly, we don’t get to do a lot of them. Especially here in Silicon Valley and the greater San Francisco Bay Area, most of our requests are to create tech-focused explainers and other corporate videos that are straight to point and not necessarily out of the box.
Over the years, we’ve made dozens of funny corporate videos and so have developed a solid approach to doing these (see below for samples of Picturelab’s and our sister company, Transvideo‘s comedies). If you’re thinking about doing these yourselves or hiring someone with less experience, here are some tips to make them laugh.
First thing to remember when making a funny out-of-the box corporate video.
Comedy is hard. Ask anyone who’s tried it. Timing, surprise, knowing your audience, the sophistication, and of course, the material itself…there’s so much that goes into making someone laugh. And to be funny to some stranger takes more than just a beer-spitting joke at the bar with your buddies. It’s an art and not anyone can cash checks doing it.
Now add the corporate aspect to it. You not only have to be funny, but you have a message to deliver. It’s no wonder that many companies shy away from comedy in their ads and corporate videos. Or why we see so many bad commercials, even those created by multi-million dollar ad agencies.
So before you jump to the conclusion that you must have a comedy, think twice about the talent and resources you have to make it happen. If you don’t have the resources, then consider the option to do something else.
Secondly, find the right balance between humor and message.
We know the importance of delivering the brand’s message. And we do our best to fuse the messaging and the humor together so that both complement each other and are organic. But sometimes, it doesn’t always work. Knowing that is half the battle. The other half is making the tough decision to scale back on the messaging if it takes away from the humor.
That may sound strange.
After all, the video is about the company and its awesome products and services, so why would we scale back the brand? Because too much messaging more often than not disrupts the timing, the surprise, the unexpected, and all the elements of comedy.
Less is more.
You want to be memorable, and monologues about everything your company can do are not memorable. Your audience will remember the humor and your brand, not every bullet point you squeeze into the 30 to 90 second ad.
Finally, trust the talent.
I know it’s tough to trust the talent and let them do their thing, especially when so many stakeholders are involved. We’ve had videos where everyone from an admin to C-suite executives had something to say about it. To test the funny and make sure it’s on brand. The end result is often a diluted and twisted version of the original idea that usually ends up not being seen at all.
Be selective when hiring the production company for the job, but once you do, the effort should be made to convince all stakeholders to let the creatives, and the subject matter experts, do their thing. A good production company will always welcome feedback and ideas from the client, and will do its best to incorporate all ideas into the video, but there needs to be a balance and a level of trust between all parties’ abilities to do their jobs.