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The Inspired Unemployed have garnered a large following on social media with their playful skits, and have established themselves as “this generation’s cultural icons”, according to Goss. They have also both embraced a plant-based diet, making them an ideal fit for the campaign.
Brands turn to comedy to win over consumers
TIm Hill, co-founder and CEO of social media analytics company Social Status, believes leaning into comedy is a clever tactic by brands.
“Brands can achieve cut-through by having a personality or at least partnering with creators and leveraging their personality and community,” Hill told Inside Retail.
“Comedy has the ability to change the narrative style too, so an ad feels less like an ad. I think this approach can work for most brands. Comedy doesn’t have to be controversial either. I think it’s just more about having a personality and doing something different or unexpected. A great quote from a B2B marketer a decade ago that has stuck with me was ‘Boring isn’t the only option’.”
Hill expects to see more brands lean into their personality and community through collaborations with other brands, such as the Hunter x Disney collaboration, by collaborating with customers, as seen at Anytime Fitness, and collaborating with key staff, a method used by Woolies and TikTok.
But Melissa Packham, a former FMCG marketer and founder of Brand-Led Business, says the use of comedy isn’t for every brand.
“Sometimes it comes down to the channel where comedy is more accepted for a brand that otherwise couldn’t make the stretch more broadly. For it to be really impactful for the brand, setting a tone or crafting positioning, it needs to be executed in line with the brand strategy,” Packham told Inside Retail.
“Done well, it can endear brands to new audiences. Done poorly, it can come off as cheesy, insulting, diminish positioning or credibility and even result in a PR crisis.
OnlyFans as a marketing tool
Generally, brands have been slow to embrace OnlyFans as a marketing tool, due to its high proportion of adult content, and Hill suspects this will be a one-off from Grill’d.
“I think it’s a decent stunt but it does appear to be a single execution, not an ongoing commitment to building an audience on the platform – something that perhaps is out of reach for most brands now ever since OnlyFans reversed their previous adult content ban,” he said.
“It’s obviously going to push a few buttons. But the rationale for this comes back to their marketing objectives: from the outside, it would seem the choice of The Inspired Unemployed and the OnlyFans platform is to attract 20-somethings who are unlikely to be drawn into a campaign like this with traditional media.”
He says the hook is “as much about the use of the channel as it is about the content itself”
But Grill’d hasn’t ruled out using OnlyFans for future marketing campaigns.
“Never say never,” Goss said.
Backlash from previous campaign
The burger chain recently got into hot water with the Ad Standards authority over an advertisement that it deemed “extremely inappropriate”. Ad Standards Australia said the brand’s ‘Grill’d Vs Plastic Toys’ ad suggests sexual violence in a scene where a Ronald McDonald-like clown seemingly exposes himself to children in an alley.
Hill says the video was “off-brand” but still performed well.
“It had over 46,000 views on YouTube, outperforming most of their other content, so from a metrics standpoint, you’d have to acknowledge it was a success,” Hill said.
“I think consumers’ memories are short and any backlash is usually short-term in nature. Marketers will keep pushing boundaries if they deem these campaigns to be effective.”
Packham says she probably wouldn’t have advised Grill’d to turn to OnlyFans so soon after the controversy, but that it comes down to their marketing objectives and who they are trying to appeal to.
“As a marketer, you want your brand to attract the right people and turn off the wrong people,” she said.
“Backlash for something that pushes boundaries is expected and frankly, in some cases, it’s a marker of success – in FMCG especially, if you’re not pissing someone off with your marketing, you’re probably not doing anything exciting enough.”