Clowning around: Laughter as a brand experience

Group of young girls playing and having funThey say that laughter is the best medicine. Yet somewhere along the line, cultural perceptions of the ultimate personification of laughter – the clown – have become skewed. Consider urban legends and modern folklore depicting the ghoulish, even evil clown. Consider Stephen King’s cult classic, It.

Does this represent what clowns are, and what they do?

There has recently been a wave of ‘creepy clowns’ spotted across the globe. While some have wondered if this new trend is part of an unknown brand activation or an attempt at experiential marketing, the truth is that the phenomenon – which has caught on like wildfire thanks to the internet and social media – has nothing to do with spreading a brand message.

We seem to have forgotten that the purpose of clowns – as professional performers and not frightening freaks – is to amuse, inspire and turn reality upside down, show us who we are… and force us to laugh at ourselves and the world around us. In this sense, clownish antics can and should be used to create positive experiences that connect human beings with laughter rather than fear.

Think of Charlie Chaplin, or the French mime artists and ‘Pierrot’ (as seen in Cirque du Soleil). Consider modern day comedians such as Rowan Atkinson and Sacha Baron Cohen, who may not wear the traditional circus costume but who none the less play the role of the Fool with aplomb. Far from grotesque, these ‘clowns’ trigger smiling faces, joy, giggles and often outright laughter.  It’s no wonder that most children love clowns. They have a singular purpose – to entertain and tell a story through positive emotion. And isn’t that what a brand experience is all about?

For most brands, the purpose of experiential marketing is to build brand love based on enjoyable experiences. Marketing events that provide feel-good experiences that can be remembered with positive emotion are more likely to connect with consumers: they are more likely to be shared with others through social media and word of mouth, prolonging the life-span of the campaign and evoking lasting brand loyalty.

And humans – being humans – are more likely to respond to a brand in the form of purchases (or other conversion goals) when they are feeling happy or content. From brand activations through to promotions, experiential marketing is most successful and results in a greater number of conversions when consumers can connect with the brand on an emotional level.

So, in the true spirit of performance, aim to delight, engage and foster authentic human connections. Take inspiration from the clowns – they know what they’re doing.

For more information on brand activations and related experiential marketing services, contact Tradeway today.