Should we be taken in by the game? Or what the brands' humour hides


Playfulness is the current credo of brands. They gamify their shopping experiences, they converse with us in a humorous way, they get their employees to play as a form of team building. What is behind this desire to entertain the gallery?

All fallen into the game

Before, gambling was the business of PMU or Ubisoft. Today, even fashion brands are getting into video games. Before, a bottle of orange juice was simple and standardised, nowadays with Innocent and all the others, every corner of the pack is covered with funnies. The humour of Le Slip Français is copied and recopied by many young companies, making their competitors boring and has-been. Fanta has even repositioned itself as the 'official drink of fun'. You have to laugh to succeed.

The playful has replaced the useful. Beaudrillard predicted this 50 years before Michel & Augustin were walking around the metro dressed as cows. For him, 'the playful is increasingly governing our relationships with objects, people and culture'. It is everywhere, and for good reason, it seduces. What's the point of going to the trouble of praising the extreme precision of the Gillette Mach3 Turbo blades when Dollar Shave Club only needs to create crazy videos - with 130 million views - to win over the American giant's customers, just one year after its launch.

Too much play kills the game

The playful brand dazzles. It puts aside what bothers us: price and product. Replace the useful with the pleasant. Reflection through pleasure. The result? In the blink of an eye, we are under its spell. The choice is made before we even know who we are dealing with. Love at first sight.

That's the whole point. Laughter can also be harmful. Distrust of brands is on the rise. No one is completely unaware of their seduction strategies anymore. Playing games can lead to yet another feeling of being cheated. Like a rude awakening from a crush that was overly fantasised the day before, and afterwards no longer so desirable; the brand that hides its lack of added value behind the joke can, once the laughter has passed, be thrown out.

Make the most of the game

Irony and playfulness are countered by commitment and seriousness. For the hygiene brand by Humankind, the joke is over: 'single use plastic waste is not a joke'. It is not here to joke: armed with scientific graphics, it informs us that we are in trouble if we continue to shine the enamel on our gums with plastic toothbrushes.

In the fertility market, Mylo is determined to bury the clichés about the 'right time' to get pregnant: 'we don't sell romance, we do sell ovulation tracker'. Her tool allows you to know when you have the most hormones and therefore the best chance of ovulating. On her Insta, there are no happy women who have just given birth and are looking lovingly at their husbands: only expert advice. The same goes for Bodily: 'information you want, products you need, all backed by research and validated by experts'. Useful information replaces sweet talk. No buddy-buddy, but an ally role.

Like a playground monitor, these brands do it for our own good. Asket shouts out the unbearable reality that fashion lovers are running away from: every piece of cotton you buy destroys the planet. She goes so far as to make her customers sign a receipt detailing the cost of their purchase to the planet.

These brands are playing a different game. Far from the laughter, the reality. In branding as in love: the humour is instantly appealing, but sincerity has a lasting effect. In the shadow of every norm, there is always room for paths less travelled. So before we give in to temptation, let's make sure we always question it.