History’s Most Intrepid ~ Stephen Colbert (And So Can You!)

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Marketing lessons from the most face-meltingly awesome leaders of all time.

Intrepidus fortuna adiuvat (Fortune favors the intrepid)

“There’s an old saying about those who forget history. I don’t remember it, but it’s good.” –Stephen Colbert

“Women don’t want all that. Women just want a partner who is considerate and attentive, who will spoon with them while reciting Keats, and feed them organic yogurt by candlelight on a seaside cliff at sunset.” –Stephen Colbert

Humor. It works…well, if you master its nuances and timing. No one has done this more skillfully than political satirist, writer, TV host and comedian, Stephen Tyrone Colbert. Colbert has developed a caricature of a staunch conservative pundit. Through this persona, he manages to poke fun at conservatives, liberals, media, people who hate puppies, men, women, carrots and pretty much everyone else. The sheer number of Emmy, Grammy and Peabody award nominations he’s received would boggle Stephen Hawking’s mind. He was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people, and has had a number one book on the New York Times Best Seller List: I Am America (And So Can You!). Plus, he’s a full inch taller than Johnny Depp and can communicate with eagles by telepathy.

Not only that, Colbert has given us epigrammatic wisdom such as, “The pen is mightier than the sword, if you shoot that pen out of a gun,” and “I may not agree with what you have to say but I will fight you to the death for the right to fight you to the death.”

The Colbertinator has an important lesson for you and your business: Don’t be afraid to use humor in your advertising, but use it wisely. A concept that falls flat, offends or fails to match the style of humor with your audience can have devastating consequences. However, skillfully-applied, it can make your brand voice stand out above the clutter.

People are people, even if they sit behind a big desk with a gilded nameplate, have their own private bathroom with goldleaf toilet paper and retain one of those guys waving an ostrich-feather fan. People like to laugh, and if you make them laugh, it shows them you’re a real person and possibly cool to hang out and do business with.

So, how can you increase the odds that your humorous ad campaign will have a positive impact, instead of creating a PR nightmare? The very best way is to consult with an experienced ad campaign professional. We in this field have a real sensible sense for a sense of humor that makes sense. Barring that, though, make sure you run your ideas by a wide range of people to get their feedback. Drawing a “storyboard” of ad ideas can help you and others visualize the concepts, unless your drawing looks like something cooked up by Harold and the Purple Crayon
on Valium.

Oh, and read Colbert’s book. In his own words, “If there’s a better book than this, I haven’t written it.”

Kelly Walker is creative director for Intrepid Marketing, a Bend, Oregon ad agency. For more information, contact Kelly at: 541-419-9976 or Kelly@intrepidforward.com

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About Author

Kelly Walker, MS for SWIVEL

Kelly Walker is the host of A Swig of Branding, creative director for Intrepid Marketing and a senior copywriter with over 20 years experience. He has masterminded scores of high-profile brand identity projects, written hundreds of ads and taught college-level marketing and copywriting courses. He resides in Bend with his wife Andrea, four boys and (finally) a little girl due September, 2015.

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