The serious benefits of silly season (and why we need to bring it back)

The serious benefits of silly season (and why we need to bring it back)

In times gone by, the world of PR would currently be ramping up for the traditional late summer ‘silly season’.

Traditionally, a time for adopting abandoned pool floats, sending your house plants to a hotel and contactless payment donkey rides.

Depending on your point of view, this was either a period of ‘pure lolz’, or a load of old nonsense. But it was an annual tradition nevertheless. A time to let the silliest ideas run free, have some fun executing them and, dare I say it, share some laughs with media.

However, in these post-(rising)Covid, Cost of Living Crisis times, silly season feels like a distant memory.

Tightened client budgets and heightened risk aversion combine to make ‘purpose’ briefs prevail above all others. Fun is frivolous. And this is not a time for frivolity.

Or is it?

Let me lay out why investing in silly season could be good for us all – consumers, brands and PRs alike:

Silly is good for consumers. Psychological studies have confirmed what many of us suspected already - that playful, light-hearted people who embrace the silly side of life are better at dealing with it. It was something oft repeated during the hazy days of lockdown—in times of hardship, the best salve for our mental wellbeing is folly.

Or to put it another way, being silly is good for you.

Silly is good for brands. In today’s fragmented and cynical market, building brand affinity is more important than ever. And in the quest to do so, using humour to drive emotion in comms has consistently been shown to be a crucial tool in reaching consumers, despite an ever-increasing fear from marketeers of getting it wrong. Put simply, consumers like, and remember, those campaigns they find funny.

Being silly helps us, in PR parlance, to cut through.

Silly is good for us. If consumers are still receptive to humour, perhaps we’re the ones taking ourselves too seriously? A quick straw poll of colleagues and industry bods reveals that the reality is many of us are chomping at the bit for some silly season action again, not least because it can show us at our best. Silly work can be great.

Obviously silly ideas are not as important as genuine ‘look-mum-I’m-changing-the-world’, Cannes Lions winning purpose ideas, but all the campaigns I mentioned in the intro are good examples of highly creative, well executed and effective work which should be the marker of any good campaign, whether it includes purpose or not.

Silly doesn’t stop us doing seriously good work.

So there you have it – three reasons silly season isn’t such a silly idea after all.

Let’s embrace it once again - for consumers, for our brands, and for ourselves.

It’s good for us all.

Now where’s that number for the giant paddling pool supplier…?

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