"Since release earlier this week, ‘In Da Club With 50 Cent!’ has already been seen over 150,000 times and so it seems that the brand was right to bet on a rather niche joke"
Compared to the reams of online videos that strive to make us weepy and sentimental, making an online advert funny is a legitimate challenge.
While the former usually requires an emotional narrative and a soaring string quartet, the best humorous adverts usually find their success in idiosyncratic specificity.
Think of the most memorable, rib-tickling adverts of the last few years and you might think of Old Spice’s mile-a-minute collages, or Snickers’ insane retro Super Bowl ad or something as juvenile as Kmart’s ‘Ship My Pants’.
What joins these highly-shared ads are concepts so strange and particular that they couldn’t have been thought of by committee. Like the best jokes, the element of surprise is key.
Hostelworld’s latest spot certainly lives up to this standard, opting to parody the mid-2000’s MTV hit Cribs. The brand, which connects travellers with hostels and hotels around the world, decided to take the concept up another level by having rapper and bottled water mogul 50 Cent present their mock-documentary.
The result is a much funnier, more self aware ad than the title ‘In Da Hostel With 50 Cent!’ first suggests.
Of course, If you don’t remember Cribs then this will likely be lost on you. One of MTV’s early forays into reality programming, the show followed an incredibly simple formula – a camera crew tours a celebrity’s incredibly lavish mansion while said celebrity explains the layout, introduces their friends and tells ribald anecdotes about how they came to acquire a $15,000 zebra skin lamp. It was more or less "Conspicuous Consumption: The TV Show" and that’s why we loved it.
Therefore, Hostelworld’s tongue-in-cheek homage makes a lot of sense, particularly with 50 Cent at the helm. After all, he even did his own episode of Cribs once upon a time.
Taking the same touring format as the original show, 50 Cent leads the viewer through a plush Barcelona hostel, showing off the facilities like a concierge who just happened to sing Get Rich Or Die Tryin.
Though Hostelworld has certainly led with one of the more lavish hostels on their books, anyone who’s done a bit of travelling will recognize the bunk beds, the lockers, the all-too-crucial communal area.
Despite the silliness, Hostelworld is clearly driving at an underlying message: the hostel is the new mansion.
Returning to the importance of specificity, where ‘In Da Hostel’ truly succeeds is the little details. Anyone with a passing familiarity with Cribs will recognize all sorts of tropes, from the speed-up, slow-down camerawork, to the inexplicably silent house guests, to the characterless R&B beat that loops endlessly underneath.
These small observations give Hostelworld’s spot its character and make those laughs hit even harder. Since release earlier this week, ‘In Da Club With 50 Cent!’ has already been seen over 150,000 times and so it seems that the brand was right to bet on a rather niche joke. Certainly, if you have any affinity for early 2000’s pop culture, it’s definitely worth a watch.
And if you’re wondering if 50 Cent eventually falls on the bed, proclaiming in true Cribs style, "This is where the magic happens" – you’ll just have to watch for yourself.