(October 22, 2020) Humanaut
, a 2020 Ad Age A-List advertising agency, is known for creating humorous campaigns for clients that lampoon the serious tone of classic ad tropes such as public-service announcements. Its latest spot is a direct appeal to brands in which Founder/Chief Creative Director David Littlejohn uses this parody approach to announce the agency’s latest service offering: brand roasts.
“An authentic brand is one that doesn’t take itself too seriously,” Littlejohn notes. As he begins his plea to brand managers, he then tells how Humanaut is bringing honesty to a whole new level. “The comedy roast once reserved for celebrities is now available for your brand.”
But it is no joke—it’s an actual service designed as a win-win for brands seeking brutally honest consumer insights and comedians who are suffering greatly as live venues have closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Humanaut is working with a pool of NYC standup comics who will mercilessly roast each brand. The agency will then create a sizzle video of the best material to share with the client and turn the comedians’ sick burns and insults into actionable marketing insights. The cost is $15,000.
“These days, it doesn’t seem there’s very much we can all laugh about,” the video reminds brand managers, as it goes for the jugular. “Maybe your brand is something we can all laugh about.”
The program launched on Oct. 14 with 10 slots available for any brand that would like to reserve time to hear their marketing strategy and public image privately mocked and humiliated in an effort to make them stronger and bully-proof. The roasts will not be public. They will be delivered to the client in the form of a private video. But Humanaut will encourage brands to let it post an approved cut. More information can be found on Humanaut’s website.
“In a world full of BS, honesty is a powerful way for a brand to break through,” Littlejohn said. “Not many brands have the stomach to go there, but the ones that do almost always win, and we have the track record to prove it.”
Jon Borromeo, Chief of Staff of Stand Up NY, an Upper West Side comedy club impacted by NYC’s COVID closures commented “Stand Up NY has played host to many of the comics taking part in these Brand Roasts. We’re happy to see this is giving them and other comics a platform and a paycheck.”
Humanaut has roasted the fast-food industry in the documentary “Super Size Me 2,” asked America to “Save the Bros” in appeals for Organic Fuel, and informed people that stevia is a plant in “The Sweetest Thing You Could Grow” for Splenda® Stevia.
The program is being managed by Jeff Greenspan, a veteran of the ad world and former CCO of BuzzFeed. Four years ago, Jeff pivoted from marketing to focus on becoming a standup comedian. When the NYC comedy scene was put on hold, Jeff moved from Brooklyn to The Bode hotel in downtown Chattanooga to run a bi-weekly (socially distanced) show in their lobby. He's recruiting other NYC comics for the Brand Roast program, as well as his Chattanooga shows.
Jeff joked, “I worked at BuzzFeed, Facebook, and dozens of ad agencies. My entire living was made off of lies. Now I’m doing standup and trying to tell the truth, and I can’t make a dime.” On a more serious note, he continued “I’m excited the Brand Roasts will give talented comics a much needed opportunity and financial boost during these tough times.”