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Welcome to Humor Theory

Any seasoned marketing professional will tell you that there is no better way to connect with a consumer than through communication steeped in humor. But they’ll also tell you that doing humor well is very, very hard.

And that’s why we started Humor Theory, a humor-focused practice within Hub, an award-winning advertising, design and production company based in San Francisco. Everything we do at Humor Theory—from our super-experienced team, to our stable of comedic advertising writers and stand-up comedians to our comedy-focused process—is designed to dial up the funny and dial down the chance of making cringey, un-funny, brand-damaging crap.

A quick sampler of some funny stuff

Blue Shield: Wink

This was part of a 100% comedy-based campaign that nearly doubled Blue Shield’s market share of their single biggest line. Keep in mind, this company does $10billion+ year in revenue, so the increase was not insignificant.

Oakland A’s: Chemistry

One example of dozens of comedic pieces we created for the Oakland A’s. We can bore you with the sales numbers, but here’s a fun fact—at games, fans would often chant the players lines from the TV commercials when they stepped up to bat.

Stanford Children’s Health

Think your brand is too serious for humor? Is your brand more serious than a globally respected medical institution that cares for sick kids? This spot is just one part of a multi-year extremely successful campaign with humor at its core.

Eat24: Super Bowl

For a fraction of the cost of most Super Bowl spots, we produced this commercial that was regarded as one of the year’s best Super Bowl spots by the LA TimesBleacher Report and USA TODAY (among others).

Wait, are you just a bunch of lunatics making jokes all the time?

Good question. Yes and no. Yes, we do tend to make jokes all the time. But there is definitely a method to our madness-we are all seasoned professionals, well-versed at using comedy strategically to achieve results. And don’t forget, we’re part of a well-respected San Francisco based agency that’s been doing solid, strategic work for nearly 20 years.

Blake (1)

Blake Kelly

Blake is an award-winning copywriter who started her career in advertising at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners in San Francisco, where she did work for clients such as Nike, Hewlett Packard, Norwegian Cruise Lines, and the California Milk Processors Board (got milk?). Since 2000, Blake has worked independently for creative agencies all over the country and has recently joined Hub San Francisco as a Creative Director.

Dave (1)

David Nihill

Noted Ted Talker, Founder of FunnyBiz Conference, winner of the prestigious San Francisco International Comedy Competition and author of “Do You Talk Funny”, a best-selling book on the powerful intersection of humor and business. David has taught as part of Stanford Graduate Business School’s Humor: Serious Business course and his work has been featured in Inc., Forbes, Lifehacker, The Huffington Post, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, NPR, The Irish Independent, TED.com and the Irish Times. His videos have been viewed over 70 million times. From Dublin, Ireland, he now calls San Francisco home when immigration officials permit.

DJ (1)

DJ O'Neil

Comedic director, Creative Director and Strategist and founder of Hub San Francisco, an award winning design, advertising and production company based in San Francisco. DJ’s work has won literally hundreds of local, national and international creative awards for companies like Microsoft, Google, Atlassian, Oakland A’s, and dozens more.

Comedic advertising writers

We work with dozens of accomplished and award-winning comedic writers who have worked on brands like Geico, Comcast, Twitter, Oculus, Old Spice, Budweiser and more.

Stand up and improv comedians

As a stand-up comedian himself, David has a large network of talented peers that we bring into our creative development and evaluation process.

Our patent pending Cringe-Mitigation Process

Our briefs are tight

Strategy comes first—our strategists work with you to make sure we know exactly what you want to communicate. Once we figure that out, then we go to work making it funny.

Diversified network of funny

Between our stable of freelance comedic copywriters and our network of stand up and improv comedians, we put several writers on the job, each attacking your tight brief in different ways. The funniest scripts that are on brief win, and we bring you lots of choices.

Creative director detachment

It’s easy to fall in love with your own idea and think it’s the funniest. That’s why more often than not, our creative directors won’t be writing themselves. This makes it possible to be more detached and really evaluate the work from the writers, without any sort of personal bias.

Punch it up

Once we pick the scripts with the most potential, we run them through a Hollywood style table read with writers and comedians who didn’t write the stuff, punching up the comedy wherever possible

The Board of Stupidvisors

Invariably, after we bring you scripts there will be changes and feedback. Sometimes we can all get too close too the work in question, and maybe just maybe squint our way into thinking that the changes made are funny. Just to keep us all honest, we run these scripts by a group of writers who have not seen these scripts yet, and their job is to flag anything unfunny, lame or stupid.

Scripted video testing

We’ll take the final scripts (usually three executions) and have our improv team act these out on a simple stage, theater style and record the performances. We’ll then edit these down and put them into testing. The thinking here is that by having actors read and perform the scripts, the delivery will be closer to the real thing than a traditional animatic.

Pre-production punch up

Not content to leave things along, once we’ve made the final select or selects that will be produced, we’ll do one more punch up session to give alternate lines and ideas that the director can test on set, essentially trying out alt lines to see if we land on something funnier when we’re actually shooting.

More funny stuff that we’ve made for people

Click below to visit the main Hub site, which is full of strategic and comedic work for a multitude of clients.