Humor Sites Take Ad-Inspired Gags to Disastrous Heights

  |  August 27, 2008   |  Comments

Cracked.com and National Lampoon woo advertisers like Lions Gate's "Disaster Movie" with custom content.

Lava that flows at a snail's pace and tame tornadoes are among the disaster film dangers Cracked.com pokes fun at an advertiser-inspired article set to launch later this week. The comedy site has begun creating custom content for entertainment advertisers, in this case Lions Gate's new flick "Disaster Movie." The approach is one also taken by humor warehouse National Lampoon in an effort to woo advertisers while maintaining interest from fickle young male audiences.

"The 5 Lamest Disasters in Disaster Movie History," Cracked.com's analysis of films that "wind up using disasters that appear to be just barely more than mild inconveniences," takes aim at the barely worrisome hazards in "Volcano," "Firestorm," and other movies.

The Demand Media-owned site attracts mainly 18- to 34 year-old males. That's just the type of audience that might get a kick out of "5 Greatest Things Ever Accomplished While High," a recent article presented by the weed-addled Sony Pictures comedy, "Pineapple Express."

Former pitcher Dock Ellis's renowned acid-induced no-hitter is among those drug-enabled feats. "The day of the no-hitter, Dock Ellis woke up around noon on what he thought was Friday and ate three tabs of acid, presumably because he was tired of Wheaties," notes the article. "But when his girlfriend arrived she was carrying Saturday's newspaper, which meant he'd slept through Friday or that his girlfriend was a time traveler."

For the Disaster Movie campaign, the site is also taking a poll for users to choose the "Most Epic Disaster Movie," as well as publishing a list of "The 5 Scientific Experiments Most Likely to End the World."

"We'd be talking about it anyways; it's not difficult for us to come up with an article that is on that topic," explained Jack O'Brien, editor-in-chief of Cracked.com, suggesting site content can be inspired by just about anything, including a movie theme.

"We actually create custom content for [advertisers] either through us creating articles for them or integrating their brand into user-generated contests," said Cracked.com and Demand Entertainment GM Oren Katzeff, who dismissed publishers that create content first and attach a brand to it afterwards. The Disaster Movie effort, running from August 18 through this Friday, also entails display ads, a recent homepage takeover, and a sponsored photo caption, or "Craption" contest.

Such custom ad offerings so far have appealed to entertainment brands, but Cracked.com has also seen potential interest from gaming advertisers.

Display ads for Disaster Movie have been seen on NationalLampoon.com, too. Like Cracked.com, the publisher creates customized Web content for entertainment brands. For instance, a goofy video clip distributed on sites such as Google Video and Revver in addition to NationalLampoon.com was created to promote "Duty Free TV," a block of programs featuring shows from around the world. In a parody of "The Office," called "The Sweatshop," a group of Malaysian clothing factory workers mimic characters on the U.S. version of the popular sitcom.

When one worker asks for a raise, he complains, "But the temp is making more money and she's less than a year old." The slave-driving boss barks back, "The baby's hands are smaller which makes it more efficient." The video is followed by an ad for the G4 show.

In part to better serve advertisers, National Lampoon has made 16 site acquisitions and created niche networks such as its Drunk University Network, and silly celebrity gossip site network ZAZ. The ZAZ Network, for example, is aimed at a female audience. The firm most recently purchased AllModelZone.com, a modeling industry social network; that buy will help the firm cast for upcoming movies.

"We're working with [advertisers] and seeing what we can do together, above and beyond the ad sales relationship," said Zach Posner, vice president of corporate development for National Lampoon. The media firm, which has an in-house creative team, produces content for Web, film and print. National Lampoon plans to launch a gaming related Web network in the next 30 to 60 days.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.

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