On why brands stopped being funny

Naresh Ramchandani, partner at Pentagram London, discusses why he thinks it’s time for brands to start making us laugh once again

Illustration by Michael Parkin

A TV producer once gave me a great definition of a sitcom. “In a sitcom,” she said, “there’s always a character trying to climb out of a life situation, but they’re always pulled back down, and that’s the comedy.”

Fast-forwarding through some of my favourite sitcoms, her account rings true. Jen is looking for corporate promotion, Roy is trying to find love and Moss wants to be a Mastermind champion, but all are stuck in tech support basement hell in The IT Crowd.

Three thousand five hundred miles west and a few floors higher, Liz Lemon is trying to find the value in her nerditude, Tracy Jordan is looking to be a zero-effort megastar and Jenna Maroney is hoping to be a serious movie actor, but all are saddled with the daily TV reality of 30 Rock.

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