When training is a laugh, literally


A new commercial doing the rounds on Summit TV shows how humour can be used in corporate training videos.

Produced by Comedy@Work, the commercial, Drum it in, demonstrates the “what not to do when training’ approach in the form of an over-zealous trainer, played by Greg Viljoen, beating a drum to try and train a room full of astonished trainees.

Viljoen, a well-known face in mainstream commercials, and Jo Wood formed Comedy@Work in 2010 to create corporate training videos that make use of comedy. Their clients include Absa, SARS and the RMI.

Says Wood: “We were very inspired by the series of training videos that John Cleese of Monty Python fame did. These made us realise that corporate training needn’t be boring especially in a country like South Africa, which is full of comic opportunity.’
Viljoen notes that corporates love the idea of humour-based training. “I think it gives them a break from office routine.’

Wood adds: “Training is often dry, boring and takes a lot of concentration to retain all the information that is thrown at you. Comedy assists this process – not only does it make people more receptive to learning, it actually helps them retain the information better. Training is something that people often dread, we want to change that.’

Comedy@Work produced their commercial in one day, with a skeleton crew. It was shot on a Panasonic AF 101 and post-produced at CSquared.

According to Viljoen, feedback to the commercial has been very positive. “Summit TV is full of fairly dry and serious stuff, and Lee-Ann Harding, the channel’s senior account executive, says the commercial has been a breath of fresh air.’

The “what not to do’ approach is the team’s favourite and has proved incredibly successful.

“By showing people what not to do, it almost frees them up to be not as afraid to make mistakes themselves. This is true of the video we shot for ABSA on the CPA (Consumer Protection Act). Everyone – staff and management – were petrified of this Act. It has changed the way companies do business and is a lot to take in and remember. So we created a character who was afraid of it too, and constantly messed up, bumbling through the CPA and eventually getting it right. This was a real ice-breaker,’ explains Viljoen.

He and Wood stress that they’re very passionate about what they do.
“We find it incredibly meaningful and fulfilling to impart knowledge and we thrive on the challenge of taking very technical, boring and complex information and creating something funny with it. We think that if we can make the CPA and eFiling fun – we can do anything,’ they say.


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