2014 Schedule
Interactive: March 7–11  •  Film: March 7–15  •  Music: March 11–16

Communicating with Humor: Perils & Best Practices

#sxsw #FunnyAds

If Winston Churchill had it right--a joke is actually a “very serious thing.” And social good marketers are on board. Increasingly, nonprofits are breaking through the tried-and-true PSA fray by startling us with humor. From McCann Melbourne’s “Dumb Ways to Die” on behalf of Metro Trains to Matt Damon’s “Toilet Strike” on behalf of Water.org, very serious issues, even matters of life and death, are getting the humor treatment. But does funny have merit outside of the initial guffaw? Can public service advertisers effect real change by appealing to audiences’ funny bones? This panel will examine recent success stories and best practices for comedic delivery of important information, when and why humor works and pitfalls to avoid.



Baratunde Thurston

Co-Founder & CEO

Cultivated Wit

Baratunde is the co-founder of Cultivated Wit. He's also a comedian, author and former director of digital for The Onion. His responsibilities included producing the “War For The White House” 2008 election coverage, helping the company adapt its storytelling to new digital platforms such as smartphones and social media, and expanding The Onion’s public voice as well as relationships with the technology community. Baratunde is a best-selling New York Times author of How To Be Black. He regularly engages in “digital performance art” including being @The_Swine_Flu, running a real world campaign for his Foursquare mayorship and “live hate-tweeting” all Twilight movies. He’s been a standup comedian for more than 10 years and is a highly sought-after public speaker addressing topics related to the media, politics, technology and marketing. Also black people. He was named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company magazine and has worked with the White House Office of Public Engagement as a digital advisor.


Jon Flannery

Exec Creative Dir


Jon Flannery is executive creative director at Draftfcb Chicago overseeing accounts including Kmart, Dow Chemical, and The Shelter Pet Project. Flannery joined Draftfcb in 2009 as SVP, creative director on KFC. Most recently he served as EVP, group creative director for accounts including Brown-Forman, Del Monte, Kmart, Dow Chemical and The Shelter Pet Project. In this former role, he was successful in creating smart, witty and highly-recognized work including Kmart’s viral hit “Ship My Pants” which in its first week online garnered more than 13 million YouTube views (now at 19 million-plus) and ranked as the number one viral video on Mashable’s Top 20 Viral Video Chart. He has been honored at advertising award shows including Cannes, Communication Arts, and The One Show.
Prior to joining Draftfcb, Flannery led award-winning work at Element79 for brands like Gatorade and its very popular “Is It In You?” campaign with Michael Jordan, Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning and Tiger Woods.


Mike McCamon

Chief Community Officer


Mike McCamon directs outreach and online development for Water.org. His career includes leadership roles at Bluetooth SIG, Apple Computer, Iomega and Intel in the U.S. and Europe.


Sheri Klein

VP, Dir of Research

Ad Council

Sheri Klein has been with the Advertising Council since 2005. She is responsible for advising the planning and research process for the Ad Council’s public service campaigns. She is also responsible for evaluating campaign effectiveness and conducing cross-campaign analyses for the organization. A sociologist in training (and at heart), Sheri has been involved in social research for over 15 years. Prior to her current position, Sheri conducted education policy research for Westat, a social research firm in Rockville, MD. She also spent one year volunteering for AmeriCorps*NCCC where she worked on several community service projects in the areas of education, public safety and the environment. Sheri holds a B.A. from the University of Connecticut and an M.A. in Sociology from American University.

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