Our society has become way too concerned with being "offensive" and being "offended." It's the passive aggressive buzzword of the decade, and propelled by social media, has had an impact on how far brands and startups are willing to go with funny, edgy content.
Creating fun, shareable content involves walking through a maze of race, gender, sexual identity land mines, with bloggers, everyone with a voice on social media and the mainstream media, all looking for their slice of the attention and with varying agendas.
In this video my agency recently produced for IncomeAtCollege.com, we run the risk of offending people on a few different levels. See how many you can count. I know some of you will comment "people who are offended by shitty videos." There. Beat you to it.
Brands and startups trend towards be risk aversion when it comes to pushing out videos that are funny, edgy and bordering on offensive, but that’s often where the attention goes. They know this, but at the same time don't want to chance alienating consumers, losing business or getting fired.
The flip side is that you create a video that offends some, turns heads, gets media attention (good and bad) and builds awareness of and interest in whatever it is you're selling.
Now before all you panty-in-a-bunch types get all offended, I'm not endorsing anything that's damaging to specific individuals, groups of people or mean-spirited... unless, of course they desperately deserve it.
So where’s that fine line? Trial and error. See how far you can push, and when you get slapped down, evaluate why and decide whether to pull back or double down.
FANS LIKE IT WHEN STARTUPS AND BRANDS TAKE CHANCES
Taking chances shows your fun side, an approach very consistent with social media and sharing. When you can, let consumers feel like they're in on the joke with you.
FUNNY GETS SHARED
Video is a shared experience and nobody likes to laugh alone, except creepy psychopaths... and me when I'm up too late working. We love to share the funny, comment on it and get feedback. That's why people tell jokes.
EVERYONE LOVES CONFLICT AND CONTROVERSY
One of the key elements of entertainment is conflict, and nothing is more fun for people than to watch or participate in a controversy. We love to watch people argue. The quickest way to start a controversy is to be offensive. Smart marketers know this.
The trick is to be controversial without committing suicide. Take baby steps. Little, funny, edgy offensive, baby steps.