The bleep is commonly known for its act in censorship, but lately, the bleep is becoming more and more popular in a purely comedic function.  It is no longer just used for a slip of the tongue on live television, but is actually being purposely placed in dialogue for laughs on sitcoms and commercials alike. From toddlers’ first bleeping words to senior citizens’ bleeping outbursts, it is a common comedic strategy I see on prime time television weekly. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me laugh and you’re probably guilty of it as well.  Most recently in an episode of Modern Family, young Lily  kept repeating a swear word that she was far too young to know and I have to admit…I laughed every time.  So while this tactic might be low brow and a little sad when I consider what it says about my sense of humor, the bleep has in fact become comic genius.  

Recently, I heard a local advertiser use this same censoring technique in their radio advertising creative.  It’s cute and stands out from other ads but, from an advertising perspective, I question whether it’s effective.  We’ve seen it before with Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, and I would say they did it really well.  Frank’s built a brand around the tagline “I put that *** on everything”.  I think this type of advertising works for a company that has a high level of brand awareness and is primarily working on its brand, not direct response. 

For a direct response advertiser, we only have a limited amount of time to get the viewer or listener to act.  When companies take the focus away from their key message to come across as funny or catchy, they’re more likely to confuse the consumer and in turn lessen the sales potential of the ad.  Overall, when we have thirty seconds or less to generate a response, it is better to stick with traditional creative strategies and leave the BLEEP to prime time. 


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