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Dubai Bank Invokes Shaggy in Awareness Video

Shaggy’s chart-topping hit from 2000, “It Wasn’t Me,” has made a comeback. Emirates NBD, a bank in Dubai, in conjunction with the Dubai Police, adapted the lyrics and produced a video rendition as part of a cybersecurity awareness campaign. 

Set to the song’s tune, the video conveys a conversation between the bank’s customer service department and a scam victim who asks, “How could I be so clumsy and click on that dubious link?”

“I love the sheer unexpectedness of their creativity,” said Perry Carpenter, chief security strategist at KnowBe4. “A campaign like this works because they are leveraging multiple tactics simultaneously. From a format that cuts past the doldrums of ‘talking head’ style videos, to the way they leverage music, story, and imagery – along with humor – as effective Trojan Horses for the Mind, the creators demonstrated a masterful understanding of how to grab attention and embed a meaningful message.”

As a word of caution to practitioners, Carpenter said that relying on a single ‘flavor’ of content can be ineffective. “Like any flavor, not everyone will like it or respond to it, and that’s not a problem as long as the creators account for that fact. Working across a variety of flavors and formats can help drive any message home to a wider audience.”

However, security awareness practitioners have long encouraged the use of creativity and humor in awareness and training campaigns, according to Lisa Plaggemier, chief security evangelist at InfoSec Institute

“I’ve heard plenty of security professionals and thought leaders in training and awareness question the legitimacy and efficacy of using humor to communicate about security. Many of them advise against it. When I see a spot as well-made as this one from the Dubai Police, I just don’t understand that perspective,” Plaggemier said.

The use of humor in advertising is more nuanced than a hard ‘yes’ or ‘no’. “It’s highly dependent on context (like existing perception of the issue), the type of humor (satire, slapstick, etc.),or the demographics of the audience,” Plaggemier said. 

“Humor is very effective for getting attention, it can help a campaign go viral, and it can positively affect retention. As a training and awareness lead, I had great success using humorous videos to get security content in front of people that wouldn’t otherwise engage with security messaging. The Dubai Police video is so good, I showed it to my kids and their friends. I clearly couldn’t have gotten them to watch a security video with less entertainment value. I’ve watched it three times and I’m still chuckling.”

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