Playing around with profanity-based phrases in advertising and marketing is a popular trend right now among brands. The almost-swearing and suggestive language seems to be working by stirring up attention and helping some messages go viral.
Reactions to the campaigns are mixed. With Kmart’s “Ship My Pants” commercial, the response has been overwhelmingly positive with over 19 million YouTube views. Jell-O’s attempt to change the popular acronym #FML to “Fun My Life,” however, hasn’t been as well received—though if their goal was less about positivity and more about sheer conversation on the topic, the campaign has been quite successful.
The list of brands that have jumped on the profanity-based wordplay bandwagon is a long one as of late. Here are a few of the most notable examples:
Kmart’s “Ship My Pants”
The Kmart video “Ship My Pants” is one of the most successful examples of profanity-based wordplay. The phrase, when said quickly, echoes another with a more controversial four-letter word. The video caused quite the comedic stir and quickly went viral. It now has over 19 million views on YouTube and is still gathering hits.
Because of the success of “Ship My Pants,” Kmart released another video using the same play-on-words trick. “Big Gas Prices” has been well-received with over 5 million views.
Jell-O’s “Fun My Life”
Jell-O’s “Fun My Life” campaign was an attempt to change the meaning of popularly negative acronym FML on social media. Jello-O explained that users needed some fun in their lives and insisted the acronym could stand for “Fun My Life.” The brand posted tweets using the #FML hashtag and offered coupons to users who use the acronym.
The response from Twitter users was mixed, but it inspired 500 to 900 exchanges for the brand every day they ran the campaign. That’s a level of engagement a lot of brands would love to see. The “Fun My Life” campaign is a great example of how you can integrate an item from pop culture into your campaigns in a fresh way.
Booking.com’s “You Booking Did It”
Online travel site Booking.com used the Amsterdam branch of Wieden+Kennedy to develop this commercial about booking the perfect hotel room. It shows several groups of travelers in anticipation of opening their hotel room door for the first time. Then, as the traveler is pleasantly surprised, the spot uses phrases like “You got it booking right” and “You booking did it.”
The video amassed over 300,000 views on YouTube and spawned several other similar videos with names like “Booking Perfect” and “Booking Sweet.” Each video ends with the exclamation, “Booking yeah!”
CLR “First Impressions”
With a play on the word “dirty,” cleaning brand CLR created a “dirty mouth” video showing first time users of their products. Each user has a reaction that includes a bleeped-out cuss word or three. A seemingly normal cleaning ad from the start—featuring average looking actors cleaning their homes—the video is soon filled with bleeps.
A bit of a stray from the other brands on the list—who, instead of bleeping, use a play on words—the bleeping that CLR does somehow seems a bit more shocking because viewers know the words are being said under the sound affects.
Kraft’s “Get Your Chef Together"
In Kraft's new campaign to promote its new line of meal starters, Kraft Recipe Makers, the food brand is going after all things chef. This includes a bit of naughty wordplay with the phrase "Get your chef together." The phrase represents a microsite featuring the Recipe Makers, as well as a video spot with two celebrity chefs—Rocco DiSpirito and Carla Hall—posing as smart aleck brother and sister. The video spot additionally ends with the phrase "Get your chef together."
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