Humour in Advertising: How to Make it Your Friend?

What are your favourite ads? Oh, ok, probably not the right question. Let’s put it this way – is there an ad you like or was compelled to share or discuss with friends? Or at least, remember? Was it funny?

In all probability, your response to the last question would be positive. Lately, humour is widely used in advertising, and there are certain campaigns and brands that can attribute their success to the creative use of humour in their commercials. But, there is another side of the coin, and sometimes making fun of the wrong things or at the non-suitable time can ruin an entire campaign.

Dollar Shave Club – an example of an extremely successful ad campaign that set the brand apart in the highly competitive surrounding and brought overnight popularity.

Funny: to be or not to be?

Humor appeal (a marketing term for using humor in advertising), is quite an arguable topic. The marketers of the past decades considered it good at improving brand recognition, but having nothing to do with affecting consumers’ purchasing decision. In other words, if the ads were amusing, people would remember them better and form positive associations with the brand, but it could hardly be reflected on the product sales level.

Modern marketers, however, are more favourable towards using humour in advertising and believe that it serves an important purpose – attracting consumers’ attention and forming positive relationships with the brand. This, in its turn, is reflected on sales, because people tend to purchase from the companies they like.

Other benefits of using humour in ads are as follows:

  • potential to go viral and receive good word of mouth, which means exposing the product to more potential consumers
  • creating positive brand image
  • improving recall – ads that cut through the traditional noise are remembered easier and for a longer time
Using humour in ads: secrets of success

Experts agree that there are certain “requirements” to using humour in a commercial, if they can be called so. Well, we list some of the most important tips on the matter:

  • humour should be relevant to the product and non-offensive. The wider the target audience – the more widely understood the joke should be. If intended for a narrow group of consumers – you can allow some niche humour.
  • a funny commercial should not be overloaded with product messaging, or you risk losing your audience.
  • a humorous ad should pursue the goal not only to entertain the audience and catch their attention, but also focus that attention on the product and be memorable.
  • it is important that the joke part doesn’t overpower the message, and the latter is perceived correctly (otherwise, the ad will fail its original purpose)
  • variety is key for humorous campaigns – the ads should be changed often, as repeating the same joke over and over again can have adverse effect.
  • it is best to test the funny commercial using a focus group before launching it – it may turn out not funny or unclear. For small companies, placing an ad on their YouTube channel and social network pages can be a good alternative.
Examples of funny (and successful) commercials

Nespresso. What else? George Clooney et John Malkovich

Commercial Welkom (2015) – Even Apeldoorn Bellen – Centraal Beheer

Overall, the most important thing to remember is the balance – humour, as everything else, should be in moderation, only then it will be effective. Nevertheless, it is a powerful means of clearing the clutter and making your message prominent, so why not catch the chance?

Tracklam is the tool you can use to launch your campaign once it’s ready, so you handle placement and tracking of all ad types via its online interface. It’s nice and simple, and saves your time and efforts.