The Fun Theory

Is ‘fun’ the real key to an effective advertising campaign and altering people’s behaviour? 

Between 2009 and 2011 Volkswagen brought out a series of TV ads aiming to demonstrate the truth in the thought ‘that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better.’ Examples ranged from increasing people’s use of stairs instead of escalators, to increasing recycling by making ‘bottle bank arcades’. But what was the point? Volkswagen, through this ad campaign, managed to associate its brand with both ‘fun’ and ‘change for the better’. This culminates in Volkswagen relating the fun theory to its innovative environmentally friendly cars, stating that ‘we believe more people will drive environmentally friendly cars if it is a fun thing to do’. Successfully, they have subtly related Volkswagen to fun and ethical behaviour, employing this in order to launch their new environmentally friendly cars.

A similar approach to marketing is taken by ‘Innocent Smoothies’ who identify themselves – down to their name – as a company that aims to do good. Their colloquial language and pithy sayings decorating the packaging, identifies with their target audience perfectly, giving the impression of a small, friendly company really trying to improve the world around them. The opening statement on their website declares them as ‘here to make it easy for people to do themselves some good (whilst making it taste nice too)’. The perfectly idiosyncratic declaration that ‘we sure aren’t perfect but we’re trying to do the right thing’ when talking about their sustainability promise, taps into how most people feel about the subject and ethics in general. Innocent’s ability to relate to the mass public is enabled by their ability to portray themselves as an independent company that started at a festival and has maintained the same unique approach to smoothies (and food) as it had then. It has picked out an aspect of its product and played on it, very effectively.

innocent smoothie

In society today there is a great pressure on folk to act ‘ethically’. A brand that can manage to associate itself with such ethical behaviour, whilst avoiding the drab, hemp-wearing associations, is on to a winner. Volkswagen and Innocent have managed just that; working their ethical interests to their advantage, they have managed to make ‘ethics’ their selling point rather than a hindrance.