Kayak's New Comedy Spree


One thing extremely lacking in tee-vee advertising these days is comedy -- especially the kind of intricately developed, absurdist humor in which the client/agency goes out on a limb to deliver a big, bold, funny bit in a confident way.

Even if that sometimes tends leads to confounding brain-buster stuff that can be polarizing, with those who don’t “get” it denouncing it as stupid and annoying, especially on Reddit.

But I’ve always been a big fan of travel search engine Kayak’s spots in their many metafunny iterations.

By now, we’re all familiar with the concept of travel SEO, so straight ads illustrating the best way to metasearch quickly enter eyes-glazed-over territory.

I give Kayak credit for taking risks over the years with various agencies. Two years ago, during the height of COVID madness affecting travel, (a touchy subject) the company even dipped into the political zeitgeist in a way that frankly felt unnerving.



“Deniers” featured a conspiracy-theory-shrieking, every-hair-in-place mom who argues with her daughter’s new boyfriend, Todd.

The daughter warns Todd first, in a stage whisper, to be careful: “Mom’s a Kayak-denier.”

And Mom's acting and lines are priceless. Upon hearing the brand name "Kayak," she gets wild-eyed. “Do the research, Todd!” she shrieks.  “They’re lying to you.”

He responds with a straightforward “Who’s 'they'? …Kayak searches hundreds of travel sites at once to find the best deals.” 

Mom counters with “Open your eyes!” and storms off.

There was no mention of vaccines or anything overtly political, but the set-up was so unexpected it got into my nervous system.

And now for something completely different. “Don’t Do it Yourself/Scarecrow”  is the laugh-out-loudest of three new spots showing preposterous do-it-yourself scenarios.

Here we see immediately that we’ve been teleported into woo-woo land, introduced to an intense little Ruth Gordon type farmer woman, sitting  on a bench in a barn, feverishly stuffing hay inside her blouse and vest as she screeches across the table in the direction of her chicken, who also seems a little touched in the crown. It’s fairy tale-ish, but the opposite of enchanting

“Kayak! No way!" she sputters. “Why would I use Kayak to compare hundreds of travel sites at once? I like to do things myself!"

She keeps stuffing her brown suede vest and muttering.  Eventually she exits the barn, a delightfully creepy, antique type structure that is the physical equivalent of using aluminum foil on your hat to pick up signals from a highly disturbed universe. 

Every detail here is so beautifully designed and produced it could be out of a Monty Python movie.

But the real hoot is to come, when farmer lady, who’s a great actress, stops fighting with her chicken and throws a wimple-like head cloth over herself, adds a straw hat, and still yelping, heads toward a pole in the middle of a field. 

She hangs herself on it (the anti-Christ?) and the pullback reveals that she’s become a very angry human scarecrow.

Then she lets out the sort of expertly terrifying scream known only to women who spend their afternoons hanging on a cross in a field sending auditory messages to birds.

Another spot in the campaign shows a dude who also really likes to do things himself. He turns himself into a human hoover, vacuuming the dregs that collect under a couch into his mouth.

Watching him actually suck an item into his mouth would be unbearably gross if we didn’t see he has an otherworldly, anteater-like tongue.

Also, he’s flatly horizontal, but rolls as if he has tiny scooters beneath him, back and forth, making the tracks of a vacuum cleaner.

This heightened touch is funny, and almost makes up for the distaste. I couldn’t look away. Vacuum Boy is memorable.

It's good to have these spots, created by agency Supernatural, and directed by MJZ’s Pelorian Brothers, on the roster of the usual suspects jumping around in musicals to sell pharmaceuticals.

Now, more than ever, we sure could use some selective humor optimizing.   

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