I recently took a vacation to the tropical paradise of Belize with my family. While I planned the trip as a hiatus from advertising for a few days, the ad world got to me the minute I stepped off the plane. In the middle of postings for hotels, day trips, and water sports, I saw an ad for a fishing and diving excursion company called “Sea-rious Adventures.” I’m not one for puns in advertising. In fact, I had thought I was whole-heartedly against the idea. Puns were outdated excuses for clever ad copy, I thought. They’re too hard to execute (outside of a happy hour setting, at least), and I felt that they rarely inspire consumers to engage with a brand or purchase a product.
But that Belize pun made me laugh out loud. I was on vacation, there was nothing serious about the excursion company, and I kind of wanted to have a sea-rious adventure - whatever it was. I pointed the ad out to my parents, who also thought it was cute, proving this word-play worked across different generations; indeed, my father jumped on the Belize pun bandwagon immediately, much to my mother’s exasperation.
The Belize jokes didn’t stop there. In fact, before I even got on the plane, most people I told about my upcoming trip seemed to want to respond with a pun. I got a lot of “You better Belize it!” and “Un-Belizeable!” from friends and family when we talked about my trip. Seiden’s very own Brent Heindl said “Puh-lease, Belize!,” which I found hilarious and insisting on repeating throughout the trip. In addition to the Sea-rious Excursions company, several other companies in Belize employed puns in their ads. We saw everything from “Funtasea” to “Seaduced by Belize” for various excursion companies.
Of course, I don’t think puns are the right choice for every ad campaign, but my trip to Belize got me thinking about my no-puns-allowed policy, and I think it’s time I reversed it. In the right spirit, for the right client, I think puns can occasionally be a good choice. Vacation ads can be a great place for clever ad copy, and puns seemed to fit perfectly next to the blue water and piña coladas of Belize. Since returning from my trip, I’ve kept my eye out for clever puns around NYC in advertisements, and I’ve found a few that I think make for great campaigns, event far away from the Belizean sands.
So bring on the word-play — in the right context. I came home with a “Don’t stop Belize-in’” t-shirt (you really can’t lose when Journey quotes are involved), proof that even the most staunch anti-punster can change her ways during a punbelizeably fun vacation.