Guys, Women Like Humor, But Make Sure THEY Will Think It’s Funny

Aaron Baar, a writer for Media Post News’ Marketing Daily, called a couple of weeks ago to get my opinion on the newest Virgin Mobile TV spots. At the time, I had not yet seen them, so he gave me a link to the “Shopping” one shown above. At first glance I had very little to say. I did agree that it must be about “guy humor” because there was no connection for me, whatsoever. But to be honest, I simply didn’t get it.

So, I watched it again. Still, no connection. What I do get is that they are saying women never shut up. And… so much so that they take their mouths off and leave them running when they lay their phones down. Creepy!

Then I did a search for the rest of the campaign. After watching the other two spots, I disliked the concept more. Even the production value “as the women take their mouths off” looks like something you would see on COPS when they don’t show the face of a minor or they are covering an inappropriately exposed body part.

The forced attempt at humor left the ads confusing, convoluted and not at all funny. As a matter of fact, the more I tried to understand the ads, the creepier and more inappropriate they became. They talk about having affairs with married men, open wound infections and chewing someone else’s unidentified gum. Plain wrong, disgusting and gross.

Who are they talking to?
According to Baar, these ads are specifically targeted toward the 18-34 female. I think they completely missed the mark. Admittedly, I do not fall into the 18-34 female age range they were aimed at, so I decided to ask others how they felt. To date, I have found no females in that age group who even remotely like the ads. I haven’t even found guys that like them.

So, is it just me? Check out the other two below. I’d love to know what you think.



Stephanie Holland is President and Executive Creative Director for Holland + Holland Advertising, Birmingham, Alabama. Working in an industry that is dominated by men, she is one of only 3% of the female creative directors in the country. Stephanie works mostly with male advertisers, helping them successfully market to women. Subscribe to She-conomy by Email

20 Responses to “Guys, Women Like Humor, But Make Sure THEY Will Think It’s Funny”

  1. Unfortunately, I must agree with your sentiments. At 26 years, I fall squarely in the target age group of these adverts. I watched all three several times and I feel alienated.

    The first advert had a very crude sense of humour but I could see a funny side to that, i.e. Personally I didn’t find it funny but I can see why someone would.

    The second one, however, I am actually grossed out by. Neither would I want to be privy to a conversation as depicted in the locker rooms but I also doubt that women have such an excessive need for chatter that it will outweigh the potential embarrassment caused by having such an intimate conversation in public.

    I presume the intention was to advertise the feature to talk whenever, wherever and however long women want … That’s a nice feature indeed. I myself like to spend hours upon hours on the phone to my best female friends. But I do that because I choose to and because I enjoy it. It’s pleasant. Why anyone would try and exemplify this by depicting a situation in which you’d probably prefer to have no audience (locker rooms) or wouldn’t want to be on the phone to starts off with (swimming?), I really don’t understand.

  2. I agree 100% with your views I’m a 33 year old female and then first time I saw the ad as soon as her lips stayed with the phone I was toned out and that they were horrible. In your post you state that these were created for females? I don’t understand why the company would spend so much money on creating these ads and then the air time and not ask women if they would even like them. What about consultanting some focus groups on just the concepts.

    These are just bad bad bad.

  3. I totally agree on this one. If we are putting together a hall of shame for recent commercials that miss the mark I would also add this one from Geico:

    I like a lot of the Geico commercials but this one is tough to watch. That voice is just grating.

  4. Saw the ad the other day..totally escaped me. Not in the age group maybe. But the lips…like the new billboards/ads for the teeth whitening totally creep me out.

    My 20 year old daughter…IN the age group…thought it was funny… problem at all.

    to each his own……

  5. I’m with you, Stephanie, ” wrong, disgusting, and gross.”
    I’d also add insulting, and way off message.

    Having unlimited calling is a great benefit for women. How about actually addressing why that would be important to them in the commercial message!

    Unlimited calling enables women to keep their connections and relationships going, to share their lives, to talk with people that are meaningful to them.

    Ya really gotta wonder if there were women on this creative team, and if they actually talked to any women

  6. I too fall into their target market for these commercials, however I completely disliked them. From the comments already made, I wonder how many people actually liked it?

    Let this serve as a reminder to all of us to test our ads in a group of our target market before we launch them!

  7. Yep i watched and got my teenage daughter to watch too. She thought ad 2 was marginally humorous (if you look at it the right way).

    As for me – all three were, insulting, lame, and pretty tacky.

  8. It’s not just you (as you can see from the various comments, mine included). As a public relations professional and an individual easily in the target audience, I found these commercials insulting to women in general.

    Commercial 1 suggests that we like wreaking havoc on marriages and suffer from the absence of a moral compass.

    Commercial 2 suggests that the above behaviors might have led us to an uncomfortable infection or STD of some kind that we’re unashamed to proclaim from the locker rooms as our fellow femmes look on in horror.

    Commercial 3 seems to question our intelligence, by implying that we’d fail to notice placing our foreign object in our mouth.

    Not impressed Verizon. Not amused. And pretty thankful my current carrier’s commercials are speaking my language.

  9. I’m not one to get too emotional about inappropriate, insulting or offensive TV ads (unless they are airing among Saturday morning cartoons or children’s programming), they are after all, (no offense) just TV commercials. I am, however, surprised at how many commercials completely lose sight of two of the most important elements of a commercial – the message and the brand. This is a case where I think the terrible, off-the-wall (or ‘random’ as my sons would put it)concept gets my attention and may even provoke me to verbal comments whenever I see the spots, but it is all for naught because I never retain the message or the brand. The concept has become more important than anything else. I find it interesting that in Aliera’s comment she misidentified the brand as Verizon, not Virign Mobile. I rest my case.

  10. I’m with all you. I find it offensive. I own a business selling to women in a male-dominated industry (motorcycling). I’m often amazed and disturbed by the advertising I see directed at women.

  11. I am 27 and I didn’t get the concept what so ever. I just thought it was another creepy advertisement trying to be different.

  12. Over 40 here and don’t get it. Is it a depiction of how guys see women – talk talk talk and no brain? Can’t be that b/c there are no breasts either.

    Bottom line: Ew.

  13. I’m 27 years old, talk all the time on my phone and really thought these commercials were creepy and gross (the second one). I’m fine with thinking that my age group is on the phone a lot but let’s face it I’m not “talking” as much as I’m texting or communicating via Twitter and Facebook.

    I’m a Verizon Wireless fan now and wouldn’t think for a half of a second to leave for Virgin Mobile.

    Great Post!

  14. Like the other commentators, I’m not a fan of these type of ads.

    But, I’d like to add a little humor.

    Have you seen the “Target Women” videos?

  15. Thanks Lisa. Yes, I have seen Target Women and even posted it on a blog I agree…I think Sarah Haskins is hilarious!

  16. I can not agree with you in 100% regarding some thoughts, but you got good point of view.

  17. Wow. While I specialize in using humor in marketing, I don’t even have a uterus and it’s easy enough to recognize that you are spot on. Those spots are completely out of touch with the target demo.

    First, if you’re going to use humor to appeal to women, make fun of how foolish we men often demonstrate ourselves to be. The examples are all too common that it couldn’t be eaiser.

    Second, if truly trying to reach the 18 – 34, focus on the texting as that is what the 18 – 34 demo spends most of their time doing on a cell phone.

    Mustaches for everyone….on the house.

  18. The only thing I get out of this is that women (and men) should NOT talk on their mobile phones in public – because the world gets to overhear your private & personal conversations…

    Humor? Hardly. And that crusty air it out one. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

  19. Yep, I agree entirely. Not funny. I’m a male, but, I already detest “guy” humor – because it’s usually just sexism.

    Guy humor aside, these were just confusing. It’s difficult to decipher what these ads are trying to say. Humor FAIL.

  20. I fall right in the middle of that age range, and I don’t find the ads funny. In fact, most “funny” ads today seem like they were written by 13-year-old boys.

    The only two TV commercials to make me last in the last few weeks?

    1. The Verizon “Big Red” spoof of the old gum commercials

    2. The Old Spice “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.”

    I’ve actually watched both of these ads on YouTube multiple times–because they make me laugh!

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