In the summer of 2015, creative agency Droga5 teamed with Clearasil to create an ad campaign fueled by anti-humor to better engage with younger consumers online. The campaign – comprised of several ill-received memes – failed to enthrall internet trolls and snarky teenagers alike (see photo #1 below) and led Droga5 & Clearasil to rethink their strategy.
A year later, Droga5 and Clearasil returned with a host of amazing, post-ironic ads that admit to their teenage consumer-base that they, indeed, know very little about what stuff teens are into. This tagline is (re)interpreted in a multitude of genius ways – from unique ways to incorporate the hashtag (http://bit.ly/2jv0c8U) to Lynchian surrealism (http://bit.ly/2jPiSS5), to Clickhole/Onion-based ironic humor (http://bit.ly/2jc6M3e), to an hour and a half long test prep course (http://bit.ly/2jc8LEY). Interestingly, apart from the campaign’s launch video (which has accumulated almost 5.5 million views), the other videos (included above) have received a little less than 50k views. While receiving virtually unanimous praise from industry critics (http://bit.ly/1U5aEhC), the lack of wide-scale engagement from its targeted online demographic begs the question whether irony – when endorsed by a corporation attempting to sell a consumer a product (a la Marvel’s pastiche of Joss Whedon’s humor in their more recent, Whedon-less entries in the MCU) – sells.