Utility & Entertainment in Advertising

When was the last time you found an ad useful? And what if it were both useful and entertaining? Now that would be a reason to pay attention.

At Bleublancrouge we believe that advertising should serve a purpose that sits behind the overriding objective to win business results for the client. In order to achieve those results, we believe that advertising needs to simultaneously offer two things to the viewer:  utility and entertainment. Utility, in the sense that it needs to offer something useful, whether that means positioning the product in a way that offers a highly relevant benefit to the consumer, or better yet, where the ad itself serves some useful purpose.

As an example (and we often cite examples from other agencies whose work we admire), here’s a campaign from DDB for GO, the regional transit network in Ontario, which featured on-board posters encouraging passengers to exercise proper etiquette when riding the GO train:


The campaign serves a functional purpose: to improve behaviour on board the trains so that all passengers can enjoy a more pleasant and harmonious experience. But they chose to deliver their point through rather hilarious and memorable illustrations that used hyperbole with incredible effectiveness. Not surprisingly, this campaign is well loved by GO passengers and has indeed improved conditions on trains. It’s even picked up a few well-deserved awards.

Here’s another example of utility and entertainment. A recent Christmas campaign from Interac, provides a useful reminder to all of us about the dangers of over-using credit while Christmas shopping:


Note the clever use of the hashtag #MerryJanuary. Indeed, the utility of this campaign is veering close to a public service announcement, encouraging us to think ahead to how we’ll feel in January. But it delivers the admonishment in a way that’s memorably entertaining, with that earworm of a song. Tchaikovsky might roll over in his grave, but we’ll probably find ourselves singing “debt debt debt debt” to the Nutcracker melody next time we’re running through the mall.