Toronto ad agency John St. has made a name for itself by making fun of its own industry.
" Pink Ponies " mocked the overly dramatic tone of case study videos, which advocate for agencies' campaigns at award shows. It used the same soaring music, high production values and statistical measures of success to describe its campaign for a child's birthday party.
" Catvertising " poked fun at advertising agencies' ridiculous claims that they know where the future is headed and are positioned for the next big thing in marketing – by creating a fictional promotion for its transformation into an agency focused solely on producing online cat videos.
Its latest parody video spoofs the obsession with viral videos – with clients asking how to make a branded video that will garner millions of views online. " Buyral – Professional Clicking" is a fake promotion for a new firm that allows marketers to buy the clicks they need to make a video go viral.
The satirical spot discusses the firm's expansion, with satellite offices in South America, Indonesia, and India, filled with workers clicking their mouses all day long. It also promotes its outreach programs to retirement homes, where elderly people help with clicking, and integration of clicking into educational programs in schools.
The newest innovations include a mobile phone application allowing people to click any time, anywhere – called the CL-app (the pronunciation of which lends itself to an off-colour joke).
While the idea of installing a device to harvest clicks from elevator button panels, ATM keypads, crosswalk buttons, and whack-a-mole games may be a joke, the ad industry – John St. included – does invest in giving online videos a helping hand to reach more viewers. Seeding agencies typically reach out to influential bloggers to ask them to write about or tweet a video, and use other tactics to gather more clicks. The video spoofs that practice by taking it to the extreme.
"One day we won't need the viewer," the video declares.
While the videos started out as a bit of fun, they have also become ads for the agency itself. As a Canadian independent, that visibility is valuable – at global shows and conferences, John St. is often recognized as the "Catvertising" firm, partner and president Arthur Fleischmann has said.