Mike McAvoy, President of The Onion, on His Most Successful Campaign So Far

By Aneya Fernando 


The Onion.com, known for its deadpan humor and mock-news network, has been expanding beyond its namesake site. Onion Inc. now boasts The A.V. Club, its entertainment-based sister site and Onion Labs, its advertising/marketing layer.

Onion Labs has created campaigns for everyone from Microsoft to Ford to Home Depot. Mike McAvoy, president of The Onion, recently talked with Mediabistro about this new branch of the company. McAvoy says: “It became our pitch really as a business [to] evolve with the whole native-advertising movement, as well as advertisers’ decision to change how they tried to reach millennials.” McAvoy talks about the most successful campaign they’d had so far:


I think we’ve had quite a few that have been good and have gotten good plays. We haven’t had the Old Spice viral campaign just yet, you know, where we’ve gotten 100 million [hits]. But we’ll let you know when we do. I think our most successful piece, our most viewed piece was [an] April Fool’s joke for YouTube [last year about the social-media site selecting the best video on YouTube], which has been seen by [over 11 million people]. We do a lot of work that is behind the scenes, white label or work for hire, where we’re creating content for a brand and the audience, or the world, doesn’t know it.

To hear more from McAvoy, including how he deals with native ads on his own site, read: So What Do You Do, Mike McAvoy, President of The Onion?