Every decade has its trends—in fashion, entertainment and, you guessed it, advertising. Puns, small type, big type, headlines and visual solutions have all moved in and out of the industry spotlight since the days when ties were skinny and morals were ambiguous. So, if that’s true, grasshopper, what is the defining trend of the 2000s?
Of course, there’s more than one, but the most recognizable is one that doesn’t solely exist in advertising—it has branched out into TV , movies and arguably become the defining comedic style of the last decade. And no, it’s not Ray Romano. I’m talking about the Non-Sequitur.
The half-man half-horse of Greek mythology? No.
The literary device defined by a comment or action that, because of its apparent lack of meaning relative to what it follows, seems absurd to the point of being humorous or confusing? Yes.
Why should you care? Because some of the most successful advertising campaigns in last couple years have hung their hat on it. Smarties, Skittles, Old Spice, Red Bull and many more of the world’s biggest brands have had tremendous success with this style of comedy.
Take Old Spice’s most recent Man Your Man Could Smell Like spot, for example. From the moment the man’s legs break away to show him running on a log, to his swan dive into a hot tub which drops away to reveal a motorcycle, the whole ad is one brilliant string of visual non-sequiturs after another.
Skittles is another great example. With spots featuring a plumber hanging a tiny man from the ceiling to solve a Skittle leak, an angry reflection, and the trials and tribulations of a human piñata, this brand has used the non-sequitur to stand out in a crowded category and catch the eye of consumers and judges alike.
Given the success of the campaigns that have used it, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more silverfish hand-catches, swan dives and ravenous beards, which is never a bad thing.
Big Tooth Ostrich.