Internet Or Die Interview

Harmon Brothers, Creators of Viral Squatty Potty Ad

How do you market a product designed to make using the toilet more… effective? Add unicorns, of course. That was the Harmon Brothers’ solution. Their 2015 ad for Squatty Potty was called “the greatest viral ad in Internet history” by Boing Boing. Celebrated for their viral video campaigns, the Harmon Brothers know how to get eyeballs on ads. We spoke with them about making potentially risky work and how to stand out in online video.

The advertising for Squatty Potty is a perfect example of our theme this year: “Internet or Die,” which is all about being innovative in order to stay relevant. What decisions did you make internally to help the product stand out and take off?

We asked ourselves, “How do you get people to talk about the colon around the dinner table?” That led to choosing a friendly and approachable concept—the ice cream pooping unicorn. (Squatty Potty named him “Dookie.”) We pitched our concept, and we stuck to our creative guns to win the client’s acceptance. It took almost six months for Squatty Potty’s executive team to get fully onboard. Sales is the core goal and we build entertainment and humor around that.

What online trends over the past five years have contributed most to your growth as a company?

The competition for market leadership between the two large video platforms, YouTube and Facebook, to build better tools for targeting and for advertisers has helped us scale our customers’ businesses.

Last year, Squatty Potty was honored with a Webby People’s Voice Award for Best Copywriting in Advertising. That’s awesome. What’s your strategy for appealing to an oversaturated online audience with your writing?

Online video liberates the writer with respect to the length of a spot. This is a big deal. Traditional advertising crams messaging into 15-second, 30-second, and 60-second spots. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as brevity can be a virtue. However, for our style of conversion video marketing, we have found longer-form spots tell the story and sell the product. We do not write with a predetermined length in mind. Our view is the ad should be as long as it needs to be to make the sale.

One big challenge for companies is the rapid pace of change on the Internet. How do you continue to innovate and stay relevant?

Honestly, one way we stay relevant is our choice to locate outside the New York-Los Angeles marketing echo chamber. Our choice to be in Utah has given us a fabulous combination of creative talent, low production costs, and quality of life.

As a leader in your space, what makes a digital project stand out to you? Can you name a recent project or campaign that really caught your attention?

A digital project stands out if it makes us want to act. Entertainment is a plus. Apple’s “Don’t Blink” ad summarizing the Apple keynote was awesome with its hyperspeed-type-plus-imagery messaging, without foregoing an elegant choreography and rhythm. It is a stunning spot.

In addition, we were blown away by an ad for a company called Chatbooks. You should really check them out. 😉

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to online advertisers who are struggling to relate to their audience?

Be your demographic. If it’s “Internet or Die,” then you better stop watching TV.

What emerging digital trend are you most excited about right now and how do you see it changing the future of your business and the Internet overall?

Tracked performance and accountability in marketing plays to our strengths. It is changing the profession and the quality of content on the Internet as a whole.

A big thanks to the Harmon Brothers for sharing their thoughts. If you haven’t already, make sure to check out their other hilarious videos (we recommend starting with Poo Pourri).

Keep an eye out for more interviews with the rest of our Internet Or Die partners for the 21st Annual Webby Awards. And don’t forget, the Extended Entry Deadline is January 27th, 2016—Enter today!

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