Humor is an emotion that we encounter every day of our lives. It’s in our homes, in our social media feeds, on our TV screens, and in today’s world, in many of our virtual meetings. The power of humor has an overarching result: connection. A funny joke brings people together, and advertisers aiming for laughter build an emotional connection with their audience. Maryam Garg, founder of MODMASK, and Carolyn Morse, the writer, producer and creator of MODMASK’s video ad, bet on humor to market a product not typically associated with levity.
In this Ad Spotlight interview, they reveal their reasoning behind the comedic inspiration, how they used resourcefulness to execute this vision, and why their approach paid off with their audience.
MODMASK’s “Where Comfort Meets Your Face” ad on Hulu
Tell us about MODMASK
What do you do?
Maryam Garg: I’m Maryam Garg, I’m the founder of MODMASK. I started this business in January while in an entrepreneurship program at USC.
The timing of the launch coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic, but that was not intentional. Instead, I planned the launch to coincide with the Coachella music festival in Indio, CA. I was looking forward to a fun Coachella experience and wanted to sell my masks to festival goers seeking a chic way to combat the dust and sand.
My initial curiosity in masks was inspired by the rising frequency of wildfires and the impact on air quality where I live. I always felt like I never had the right masks during fire season since N95 masks were uncomfortable for me.
I wanted to create an alternative that was as comfortable, luxurious and fashionable as a pair of stylish sunglasses. Now with the advent of COVID-19, the need for quality masks has become more urgent as an everyday staple.
Carolyn Morse: I’m Carolyn Morse. I’m the writer, producer and creator of the MODMASK “Where Comfort Meets Your Face” commercial.
How are you different from your competitors? What makes you stand out?
Maryam: If you look at [the majority of] our competitors, they’re using cotton or polyester. Right now it’s mostly manufacturers pivoting to masks as a matter of survival for their business, but MODMASK is a specialty product that uses super-soft Micro Modal fabric with silky-smooth handfeel.
It’s similar to a big-box retailer making yoga pants compared to Lululemon making yoga pants. This mask is our focus. It’s the result of extensive testing and prototyping with every detail. We iterate based on customer feedback to make improvements for fit, feel, comfort and overall wearability.
Every single package has a handwritten note, and it’s packed like a gift with tissue paper. It’s comfort in the time of discomfort. We also have free shipping, same and next-day delivery, and free returns with a 30-day return policy.
Who is your audience?
Maryam: This ad targets women over 35 with a household income of over $150,000. My most loyal customers are affluent women ages 60+ who care about quality, customer service, and supporting local businesses.
Another important audience has been affluent Gen Z customers who care about the naturally derived materials and gravitate towards specialty masks. They’re looking for something high-end without being flashy. They also care about giving back. I’m donating masks to frontline heroes with each purchase and that resonates with this audience.
What words or phrases do you want the audience to associate with your brand after watching the video?
Maryam: Comfort comes to the top of my mind. Premium quality as well.
What is your primary message in this ad?
Carolyn: In this video, the mom, played by me, comes home and forgets that she is even wearing the mask.
I based this ad on the idea of comfort but wanted to make it funny. We wanted to communicate that the mask is so comfortable you forget that you’re wearing it.
What is your call to action?
Maryam: My goal for this specific ad was about building a relationship with customers and not to be product-obsessed.
I wanted to keep the call-to-action simple and encourage people to visit the website and learn more about MODMASK.
Which audience emotions do you address?
Carolyn: We wanted to emphasize the connection within families. Having a meal with your family is an activity that offers a bit of normalcy during an uncertain time. The element of humor adds to the overall relatability we were going for.
We wanted to communicate that a soft and amazing product like the MODMASK means one less thing to worry about right now.
How did you use video/audio elements to help establish your brand identity?
Carolyn: Getting a crew together to shoot this was too complicated due to COVID-19 constraints, but I’d made projects from concept to completion before so I had some ideas on how to execute some workarounds with filming in a quarantine. My husband and I took turns operating the camera, and we used my father in law (who’s been quarantining with us) for the boom, and we were able to make this commercial with only the people who were living in our house. I think that helped speak to the intimacy of MODMASK and the theme of comfort.
When I originally wrote this, I visualized it with myself playing the parts. I was an actor and owned a small production company at one point. My kids aren’t actors and neither is my husband, but I directed them and we were able to do it as a family. We’re living this so it wasn’t too hard to act it out since the situation was very real for all of us.
For staging, we used my kitchen. For the wardrobe, we used our clothes. We used what we had available in our house and made the best of it. For the music, I wanted something funny so I found upbeat royalty-free music online. We were looking for something fun, upbeat, short and syncopated to match the light and airy tone we wanted to achieve. My husband, who has a technical background, helped with editing.
Walk us through the creative development process for your video ad – ideation, planning, script writing, production, post-production.
Carolyn: The very first thing I did was have a video call with Maryam to learn everything about the product. It’s a well thought-out product. Once I learned everything I could, I thought about what I could say in 30 seconds about this product.
Comfort was one angle we considered and fashion was another, so we explored the idea of dating with fashionable masks. In the end, we went with the humorous approach because of the emotional connection I believe humor can elicit.
What advice do you have for a business approaching the challenge of telling its story in 30 seconds?
Maryam: Humor was a big piece to me because it’s such a dark time right now. In general, I’m very positive, but at times it’s brought tears to my eyes to be raising kids at a time where they can’t hug their friends.
At the same time, I still want to laugh, and I want my brand to represent my personality. I wanted the ad to be funny in a relatable way because why not laugh? We’re in this situation regardless.
I’d recommend that business owners find a way to delegate as much of this process as possible. Investing in marketing is important for the growth of a business, and while it takes creativity to find the right vendors, it’s possible to have quality marketing on a low budget.
What are the qualities of a successful video ad from your perspective?
Carolyn: Relatability is high. I always like humor. I love commercials that tug at your heart, but I am more biased towards humor in ads – something that can touch your emotions even more.
Maryam: Music is a big piece. Bringing out strong emotions through music and visuals is important.
Why did you choose Hulu Ad Manager to help you tell your story?
Maryam: It’d been difficult getting conversions from other channels. Getting on a TV is a big deal. With Hulu Ad Manager, you can have a minimum budget of $500 and that’s affordable for any small business owner.
People assume that I have a $20,000 budget and have no idea that I am spending a tiny fraction of that. The number of impressions we can get for our spend is incredible for such an engaged audience. The engagement on this platform is not comparable to Facebook or Instagram where the audience is scrolling past ads.
Learn More About Hulu’s Self-Service Advertising Solution
Thank you so much for your time, Maryam and Carolyn! We look forward to seeing what creative video ad concepts you’ll think up next.
Looking to connect with engaged audiences on a flexible budget? Learn more about Hulu Ad Manager—the new way for businesses of all sizes to appear next to TV’s biggest shows.