The YouTube-ification of TV advertising

Burger King’s notoriously creepy King commercials as well as the company’s recent debut of ads featuring awkward singing duo Shroom & Swiss have made one thing clear: weird is the new jingle.

In the age of Tivo and DVRs, advertisers have to do a lot more to compel viewers to watch their commercials. Many have found that the way to capture the minds of the elusive 18-34 male demographic is to emulate those crazy YouTube videos that they are watching. This has led to an onslaught of head scratchers like Quiznos’ “Eat $5” campaign, Skittle’s piñata man, and a centaur touting the virtues of Axe Body Wash.

While some intentionally weird campaigns have been successful (BK’s King is now a sought after Halloween mask), most just end up falling flat. Television viewers are a lot more sophisticated than advertisers give them credit for and can recognize when they’re being pandered to.

It’s hard to think that this trend in advertising — along with the prevalence of reality TV — isn’t a part of the dumbing down of American television, but as long as campaigns like the King continue to go viral and become cultural phenomena, advertisers will continue to do whatever works. The fundamental point of any ad is to get people talking about the product, which, ironically, is what I have just done.

Burger King: Shroom & Swiss, Wake Up With the King


AXE: Chocolate Man, Centaur


Skittles: Piñata Man, Long beard