It’s not that easy to find campaigns featuring women comedians, let alone choosing my favourite. The opposite is true for male comedians, which sadly I don’t find surprising. However, one campaign that stands out for me was aired in the late 1990s. It’s the Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc’s Kingsmill series of adverts. It has a quality that’s increasingly being seen as key today – authenticity.
Having seen Sue Perkins live at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I feel that the comedy duo were being true to their own personalities in this ad. They come across as real rather than acting, which is so often the case. Take John Cleese, for example, who has arguably flogged his Basil Fawlty character more than is strictly necessary.
What’s more, they made me laugh – mainly because in addition to the above, you can see the real friendship and bond they have, which meant the ad didn’t feel forced. These were two real women, bouncing off each other and not, one feels and hopes, following a tight script. This to me is crucial if women comedians want to be perceived as credible in advertising, and retain their current reputations in comedy circles, not to mention those of the brands they are representing.
For me, the best comedians are great improvisers and spontaneous. Yes, they develop scripts and jokes that they follow, but these are created by them. Factor in ad writers, and you’re potentially building a barrier to people finding them funny, because they are not being real. Add this to people’s scepticism about how much they’re being paid, and it’s not great a recipe for success.
If women comedians are true to themselves and come across as real people, they’re far more likely to resonate with the real people their campaigns are targeting for the benefit of themselves and, of course, the brand.
Jess is Account Director at real world marketing agency Sense.