TBS Funny Business From Mother

NEW YORK Mother’s new campaign for TBS continues the “Very funny” tagline in ads starring comedian John Cleese.

A 2-minute and 45-second cinema spot shows Cleese describing TBS’ “Department of Humor Analysis,” where comedy is “studied.” People in white lab coats study two mimes: one pretending to be stuck in a box and one who is actually stuck in box to determine which is funnier.

Five television spots take place in the same location. In one, Cleese tries to enter a room and inadvertently is the subject of a “knock knock” joke. The ads, directed by Kevin Thomas of Thomas Thomas Films, retain the “Very funny” line and add, “Staying ahead of the curve in the funny business.”

The ads, which were done on a project basis, drive people to a Web site, www.tbshumorstudy.com, where they can watch short films and fill out a survey about what’s funny. A sample question shows Peter from Family Guy wearing a giant foam hand and asks, “Where is the funniest place for Peter to put his finger?”

The “Department of Humor Analysis” series plays off TBS’ previous ads, created by Publicis in New York, which featured a large call center staffed by bit players on sitcoms. People called in and asked if different scenarios were funny.

“We thought it would be cool to start exploring the space inside TBS headquarters,” said Dave Clark, a copywriter at Mother in New York. “The call center is down the hall. If the call center uses Macs, we use PCs because we’re a new initiative.”
The effort also includes a survey booklet about humor, pages of which form wild postings in New York and other cities, as well as print ads.

The media spend was undisclosed. The ads began appearing late last month.