Selling socks through dark humor

What better way to capture young hearts than to produce a dark-humored commercial about euthanasia? Such is the thought behind sock brand Burlington France’s latest YouTube commercial, “Euthanice Me”:


The YouTube-only commercial starts off seemingly touching, with a young grandson looking over his grandfather, asking, “Grandpa, are you going to die?” But around the halfway mark, the grandson smiles, jokingly motions as if he’s pulling life support from his grandfather, and then he actually does it.

“Burlington used to be more directed to an older generation — these are your grandfather’s socks,” said Philip Derome, the creative director for Pain Surprises, the French agency that worked with Burlington on the videos. “I won’t say Burlington wanted to reject their audience, but they wanted to push back older consumers and bring in young consumers.”

“Euthanice Me” is the third in a series of videos meant to establish the company’s social voice and presence online. The first, “It’s a Fucking Matter of Detail,” which was released in February 2013, features a nude hipster defending his taste in Burlington socks: “I’m wearing Burlington, and I’m fucking proud.” The second, “Can You Sock Me?” released late October 2013, plays on the word “sock” as if it had a hidden sexual double entendre. Since its release, “It’s a Fucking Matter of Detail,” has received more than 37,000 views on YouTube. “Can You Sock Me?” has received more than 116,000. Interestingly, the brand is barely visible on other social platforms: It has only 278 followers on Facebook.

“Some comments, especially for ‘Can You Sock Me?’ say the videos are disgusting, but some people like it,” said Derome. “But it’s always a black or white reaction. That’s what we do.”

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