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What Marketers Can Learn From Abbott & Costello’s Famous ‘Who’s On First?’ Routine

January 11, 2019

Abbott & Costello’s “Who’s On First?” is one of the funniest comedy routines of all time. It’s also in the Baseball Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

And no, it didn’t involve owls…blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Abbott Costello caricatures baseball uniform Who's On First owls saying who perched on first base

blank vertical space, 16 pixels highIts basic premise– wordplay involving funny names– was
not original
: the idea goes back to turn-of-the-century burlesque sketches.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

The routine was tweaked and polished by many people, including A&C, but the actual writing credit is unknown.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

“Who’s On First?” succeeded because it fit the brand: it was the perfect vehicle for Abbott and Costello.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

All of which offers some marketing lessons:blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

1. You can repackage an old idea, but you have to give it a new spin and make it your own.

2. Collaborating with others helps because it brings in fresh perspectives and new ideas.

3. Content has to fit the brand— which means collaborators have to embrace the brand’s goals.blank vertical space, 24 pixels high

Here’s a summary in a single graphic. Click on it to bring up a larger version.blank vertical space, 24 pixels highAbbott Costello caricatures baseball uniform Who's On First owls saying who perched on first base marketing lessons new spin collaboration helps content must fit brand

blank vertical space, 24 pixels highAnd if all this makes you want to see the routine, here’s what’s generally considered the best filmed version:blank vertical space, 16 pixels highblank vertical space, 24 pixels high

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About Mark: I’m an illustrator specializing in humor, branding, social media, and content marketing. My images are different, like your brand needs to be.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

You can view my portfolio, and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.blank vertical space, 16 pixels high

Questions? Send me an email.blank vertical space, 40 pixels highRecommendation testimonial for Mark Armstrong Illustration from Chuck Reese, President, Smartpress.com

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. January 12, 2019 5:31 AM

    Great illustrations! Love them. This is indeed a darn good work.
    Ofglassandbooks

    Like

  2. January 14, 2019 7:57 PM

    I agree that all collaborators must embrace the brand to come up with a good brand and marketing content.

    Like

    • January 16, 2019 8:17 AM

      Well said, Jean: no team can be effective unless everyone pulls together. Thanks for pedaling by and throwing that comment on my lawn!! 🚴⛳️😊

      Like

  3. January 16, 2019 8:17 AM

    Mark my words – this is an excellent post and I loved watching the old video!

    Like

    • January 16, 2019 7:21 PM

      Thanks, Margy! That video, that routine, just reduces me to tears. It’s so complex, it’s so fast, and it’s so smooth. The timing has to be perfect, and it is perfect. You’d swear it was all spontaneous… how on earth did they do it?? OK, I guess they practiced it a few times… 😊 Glad you enjoyed it, thanks for stopping by!!

      Like

  4. January 21, 2019 1:29 PM

    I hope lots of people see this bec it’s a gem – it sparkles with smarts. Reading these posts is like attending the best (and most enjoyable!) grad school marketing/promotion/advertising classes! Thank you sharing them with us!

    Like

    • January 23, 2019 8:44 AM

      I don’t know Who’s On First, but I do know a kind and wonderfully supportive comment when I see one!! Thanks a million, RK– and I’m gonna buy you all the peanuts and popcorn and Crackerjacks you can eat next time I see you at the ballpark!! ⚾️😋

      Liked by 1 person

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