HBO ComedyFetish.com | Adweek
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HBO ComedyFetish.com

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Ads often make half-hearted gestures at being weird, but don't have the nerve to be truly weird. Let us tip our oddest-looking hats, then, to a campaign (by Venables Bell & Partners) for HBO Home Entertainment's comedy programming. Directing viewers to a Web site called ComedyFetish.com, where they can sample and order programming, the spots achieve genuine weirdness. Instead of branding the product (which, in this case, is a grab-bag of comedic items), the campaign brands the viewers -- leading them to draw the inference that they're the sort of people who should go to this Web site and sample its wares. "Do the things that make you laugh also make other people recoil in face-twisting horror?" asks an odd character who's seated in an odd mansion. "Do children and dogs keep their distance? You might have a comedy fetish." His lovely assistant then chimes in by reading bits of the on-screen super that scrolls by, listing things to be found at ComedyFetish.com, as if it were a porn site gone wrong (or wronger) -- including the likes of "swollen egos," "premature evaluations," "hardcore awkward silences" and "huge misunderstandings." This approach won't appeal to everyone. But then, the success of the HBO franchise as a whole has grown from the brand's insight that it needn't appeal to everyone but can prosper by appealing strongly to particular audiences. --Mark Dolliver