When I was growing up, I had some next door neighbours who absolutely loved the Pink Panther films – almost to the point of obsession. You could guarantee that, across a Sunday afternoon (and evening), they would be watching some of the eight films (up to 1983) in the series.
I liked my neighbours and they liked me, so I would often be round there, particularly on the weekend- apart from anything else, they wanted others to join them in their Pink Panther worship.
I ended up loving those films as much as them – if not more – and watching them time and again, even up to present day.
Humour is subjective, but I find the films hilarious. I particularly enjoyed watching Peter Sellers grow into the buffoonery of Inspector Clouseau, perfecting the character’s bizarre mispronunciations and idiotic mannerisms.
What I loved most of all though (and I didn’t know it at the time), was the simple, conceptual thinking behind certain scenes, that borders on genius.
Take a look at this:
The basic concept, if written as one line, is: ‘different ways in which Clouseau can make Dreyfus fall into the water.’
That’s all this scene comes down to (that and the word ‘beump’).
I can imagine the writers spending days coming up with endless lists of ways in which Clouseau could cause Dreyfus to fall into that river. I bet they had hundreds of ideas, but ended up with a ‘best 10’.
This is the same thinking behind any conceptual advertising campaign: have a central idea that you can explain in one line, if asked (if not then your idea is probably too complicated), and see how many different ways you can show it.
Got a talking meerkat, as part of your campaign? How many different scenarios can you create for him, in which he can sell people into a comparison website?
Want to show ‘joy’ for a chocolate bar campaign? How many ways can you represent it? Drumming gorilla, dancing eyebrows, trucks having fun….
So, I may not have known it as a kid, but this kind of thinking is why I found (and still find) the Pink Panther films so funny and so smart.
I’ll leave you with one more scene from those films – one of my favourite, which falls under: ‘how much carnage can a metal, knight’s glove cause?’