The Onion is all about funny, satirical, almost believable stories. When we first heard about Vladimir Putin’s plan to pump up Russia’s fertility rate with a Boyz II Men concert, we immediately thought of the magazine.
But now we know that’s not all “America’s Finest News Source” can do. See, Digiday taught us something this week: The Onion also helps brands discover (or re-discover) their sense of humor via its in-house ad/marketing/advisory team, Onion Labs. This strange experiment all started last year when Microsoft Internet Explorer, desperate for a rebranding, decided to embrace its reputation as “The Browser You Loved to Hate” and ask The Onion‘s advisory team for ideas (one of which was this cute “Child of the 90’s” video). The project grew rapidly from there.
Onion Labs is still relatively new, but the group’s site features a series of funny spots for brands as disparate as Jack Links and 7-Eleven. They’ve also worked on social media campaigns like the #vacationitis project for Hilton Hotels and Resorts.
We can certainly see why the Onion Labs aesthetic appeals to so many brands–if you’re not comfortable making fun of yourself then you’re going to have trouble appealing to that crucial 18-30 demographic. Here’s one of the Lab’s commercials pitching Dove deodorant to men by making light of the fact that guys don’t really like to deal with their dry skin problems:
PR pros: Would you recommend Onion Labs to a client eager to demonstrate its sense of humor?
Also: The Onion Labs team frequently works with clients’ PR firms. Would you like to work on a project with these guys?