The Fun Theory – Adding just the right amount of fun

In a world where work now takes precedence over almost everything, most people have forgotten what it is like to actually find something fun in what we do. My new boss at my new job was thinking out loud, throwing ideas into the air – trying to figure out how we could solve the problem of waiting when he mentioned Volkswagen’s Fun Theory. Only one out of us five heard of it so he eagerly told us all about it and do we think it’s possible to apply this in a hospital setting?

It took me a few days before I could get around to do my own research about it. My internet connection was down so it was only when I got to work the Monday after that discussion that I got to see with my own eyes exactly what he meant.

And boy, was I amused (intrigued, curious – you pick the synonymous adjective)!

Instead of bombarding people with the advantages of the new Volkswagen products, Volkswagen and DDB Stockholm decided to take a more subtle approach. They chose to use the thinking behind the whole campaign – actually having fun. However, shoving theories down people’s throats can prove to be more disadvantageous than advantageous and this is very much applicable to human behavior. So how do they get everybody to listen?


One of their experiments involved using the stairs instead of the escalator. Yours truly isn’t a big fan of stairs. I loathe those flights of steps to the highest degree possible. Why use the stairs when you can use the escalator, right? Where’s the fun in climbing and sweating like a pig once you’ve reached the top? Well apparently, Volkswagen’s ad campaign had set its heart out to prove me wrong.

By transforming the usually boring flight of stairs into a life-size set of piano keys, 66% actually climbed the stairs – and had fun doing so! The response and the change in everybody’s behavior were astounding. I even got to thinking that if all of the flights of stairs around the world were like that, I’d gladly climb them all! How’s that for a change of heart!

The Fun Theory campaign caught on and everybody around the world began sharing the videos, tweeting them, discussing them with their friends. Language was not to be a barrier; everybody could understand fun when they saw it.

However, not all of us have the luxury of time and money to create a piano out of our stairs. Could we recreate this change of behavior even in a smaller scale? The answer is a big YES. Change in behavior mostly comes from inside us. We can make our own dull, boring and routine life fun again. Filing something? Get colored post-it tags to assist you. A long commute to work? Listen to some music and break out into song. Just be sure that you’re in your own car if you’re going to do the latter. If not, create an imaginary concert in your mind.

Yes, making normally mundane things fun requires effort – and lots of it! But look at the repercussions. People who have fun doing the stuff they usually hate don’t feel like they’re doing it. They smile more, laugh more – and bosses, they accomplish more work! How’s that for productivity?

So the next time you are faced with an incredibly boring job or day, try to step back and think of a way to make it fun. The results just might surprise you.