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In a world of airbrushed celebrity, million-dollar social posts and a desire for all things ‘luxe’, the use of self-deprecating humour in ad campaigns is at an all-time high. But surely focusing on your brand’s shortcomings will only highlight the worst parts? Actually, quite the opposite.

Millennials have a natural aversion to brand messaging – they understand the world of influencers and don’t hold a great deal of trust or loyalty. They are, in essence, ‘ad-agnostic’.

As people, we like to think we’re part of something bigger. That’s why communities come together and mob mentalities grow. When a brand openly laughs at themselves, they stop being the topic of conversation and become part of it. Admitting ‘we’re not perfect’ won’t push consumers away, if done right.

An extremely successful example of this stems back to the 1960s. In a series of print ads, Volkswagen labelled their classic Beetle as a ‘lemon’ and used straplines such as ‘Ugly is only skin deep’, accepting the fact that their competitors’ models had much more aesthetic appeal. While VW’s competitors bragged, they remained humble and approachable.


It is true that laying out all of your flaws for all to see can feel like you’re trying too hard to cover your own arse, but lightheartedly making fun of yourself can remove the corporate walls and make your brand feel more authentic.

Trying to maintain impossible levels of perfection will only make you fall harder when something goes wrong.

Check out some of our favourite self-deprecating creative campaigns below.