3 minute read.

For generations companies have used humour in advertising to engage potential customers. Humour is one of the most effective ways to generate a positive emotional response to a product or service: A reaction that will often encourage an individual to make an immediate purchasing decision.

There are several benefits of using humour in marketing campaigns. Firstly, comedy triggers the memory. Several academic studies have been conducted showing the links between humour and memory. By making your potential customers laugh, whether it’s just a little giggle or a booming belly guffaw, you’re increasing the likelihood they will remember your product or your message by a significant margin.

In the age of social media, using humour is a highly effective tactic. With a humorous campaign, you only need to tickle the fancy of a few social influencers, who will then share your advert, be it a video or image, with all of their friends. Before you know it, your content has gone viral and you’ll be an internet phenomenon.

Though the benefits of successful comedic marketing campaign are many, there are also risks. Any attempt at humour always runs the risk of falling flat. So before you put your brand on the line, consider the following points:
1. Know your audience

Different kinds of humour are appealing to different demographics. For example, it’s a well known fact that humour differs between men and women. In general, men tend to prefer slapstick and edgy humour while women usually favour off-beat joking that doesn’t result in mean-spiritedness. Most of all, you do not want to offend or annoy your potential customers. So do your research, determine who you want to reach and the best ways to tickle their funny bones.

2. Make sure your message is relevant

You don’t want your adverts to be more focused on the comedy than the selling of your product or service. It’s great if you can make people laugh, but what’s the point if they forget who or what made them laugh in the first place. Keep your jokes related to your products and make sure the part that’s most memorable also reinforces your message. Think back to the golden age of advertising (for me!), the 1980s. Remember the man in the photo booth who was trying to straighten his tie, smooth down his comb over etc.

Here’s a link for the younger readers among us who may not have seen it and for our older readers to relive the glory days of the legend that is “baldy man“…

This is a perfect use of humour in marketing, as consumers across the nation remembered and hummed the music which kept “Hamlet Cigars” in their minds. The same can be said of the R White’s lemonade ‘Secret Lemonade Drinkercampaign. I expect over half of you can still sing that line to the correct tune…I could go on, and for those of you having a trip down memory lane, here are a couple more links to other great humorous ad campaigns.

The BT-“Ology” advert (people will always need plates!)

Carling Black Label – Bouncing Bomb Goalkeeper:

The now infamous banned Tango Slap; achieved the double whammy of being funny AND banned, something sure to get people talking about your advert…

3. Mix it up

One downfall of using humour in a marketing campaign is that jokes get old faster than other messages. And once consumers start finding your jokes annoying, your ads can start to work against you. For that reason, it’s a good idea to launch a flexible campaign that can be easily transformed.  Stick with a theme, but don’t always use the same punch line. Some might say the recent Go Compare opera singer commercials could fall into this category, others may disagree. But we all know the campaign was for an insurance comparison site. So either way, the promotion worked.

4. Don’t try too hard
Don’t force it or it won’t be funny. That is all.

5. Hire a professional
Although you might think you’re a pretty funny person, it’s still a good idea to hire a professional when starting out on a humour campaign. Professionals have experience with what works and what doesn’t, and also are able to conduct tests to ensure timing is right (for video) and the overall message is conveyed properly. But sometimes, even the professionals get it wrong. The ‘you’ve been tangoed’ campaign famously backfired in the 1990s as children began to slap each other in the playground resulting in the advert being banned from UK TV.

So to bring you back to the present day, with a sense of humour and a little research, you can keep in the forefront of your customers’ minds and laugh your way to the bank.

Why not give it a try?


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