What Are You Laughing At? Humor in Advertising

Take a moment and think about the ads that you remember from at least a year ago.

What do these ads have in common? If you’re like 50% of people in North America, these ads have some element of humor. 

Humor in advertising is not a new concept. People have known that humor works since the beginning of time. Okay, maybe not, but advertisers do know that humor in advertising proves effective when done well.

Why does comedy work so well? This comes down to what you want your advertising efforts to do.

Why Does Humor in Advertising Work?

Ads with humor have 32% more engagement than non-humorous ads. This concept works best with brand-building, but it can also prove effective to sell products and services.

That’s because advertising comes down to telling a story. Humor helps you move your brand story along by connecting with your audience.

Comedy Advertisement – A Quick Attention Grabber

Consumers make a decision about your brand or product within seconds. This means you need to use shorter ads that grab their attention quickly. 

Videos that last no more than 30 seconds get the most attention. This means you want to create a connection quickly.

You want people to see your brand as relatable. Humor offers a quick way to show your personal side.

A Funny Ad Creates Positive Emotions

Since advertising comes down to storytelling, this means you need to create an emotional connection with your audience. You don’t want just any emotional connection though. You’ll get the most out of your ads if you create a positive emotional connection.

You want people to have a good feeling about your brand or products. You want them to connect you to things that make them happy. Well, humor makes people happy.

If you can reach them with humor, they’ll remember you as a brand that made them smile. The trick is to hit the right note of humor so you don’t overwhelm the message.

Using Humor Catches People Off Guard

We all know that online audiences find ads annoying. While they understand the need for ads, they avoid them as much as possible.

If you add an element of humor to your ads, especially early on, you have the potential to catch them off guard. Your target audience is more willing to stick around if they come across something that stands out from the normal ads that pop up.

This element of humor takes the sting out of the ad. People can forget they’re watching an ad if they find it interesting. 

Humor also ads a level of balance. If you’re sharing something that people normally find boring or common, humor can balance that problem. You can go from boring to memorable.

Positive Connection Leads to a Memorable Brand

People remember jokes. They talk about the things they find funny. They hold on to these humorous memories. If you can hit your audience in the funny bone, they’ll continue to think about you and your brand.

Think about some of those ads people talked about for months afterward. The Old Spice commercial with the manly man or more recently the “she shed” commercial from State Farm.

People laughed at these commercials, and they talked about them often. More importantly, people remembered the brands advertised in these commercials. 

Humor Builds Community

When people can share a laugh together, they feel closer to each other. Research backs up that humor brings people closer together.

Laughter makes people feel more connected to the person that made them laugh. It also makes them feel closer to the people they can share the joke with. This builds a natural community around your brand.

People want to share that laughter. That means people will bring others into the community by sharing the joke with others around them.

Humor Has the Best Potential to Go Viral

People’s desire to share humor also plays out on social media platforms. The videos that get the most views and shares are funny videos.

If you look at the trending videos on any platform, you’ll see that the top videos are the funny ones. This means well-done funny ads have the potential for viral-level social shares.

What better way to get the word out than letting others get your ad in front of new eyes? If you add that humor element, you have the potential for effective commercials with less work on your side to get them seen.

Humor Balances the Advertisement Field

It’s difficult to compete with those big names out there when it comes to creating brand recognition. These brands have more money than small businesses to spend on their marketing strategies.

The good news is, you don’t need a large budget if you can create a memorable ad. Humor gives this balancing effect to marketing tactics.

Humor gives small businesses a way to catch attention no matter how small the advertising budget. You have the opportunity to reach people on a competitive level if you know what you’re doing.

How to Create Effective Commercials Using Humor

While humor offers a competitive edge, it can also blow up in your face if you don’t use humor in advertising the right way. You need to know what people will respond to. You also know how to balance emotional connection with brand awareness.

Stay on Message

Humor for humor’s sake will not provide lasting brand recognition. Remember, you’re telling a story about your brand. Your brand needs to remain the protagonist in the story.

Any humorous elements you include in your advertisement efforts need to fit in with the brand story. These elements need to add to an understanding of who you are and what you offer.

A good example of humor going off message comes from PETA. They had a billboard asking people to save the whales by going vegetarian with a picture of an overweight woman. This ad got into fat shaming, which proves offensive and has nothing to do with PETA’s message.

Know Your Audience

Humor plays out differently depending on your demographic. This remains true for different ages, sexes, and even different cultures.

For instance, while people in North America laugh at sarcasm, this doesn’t play out well in China. You need to know your audience to understand what type of humor they’ll respond well to.

Before you create an ad, ask yourself who you want to reach with that ad. Do your research to understand what that target audience reliably responds to. Also, make sure you know what doesn’t play well.

Avoid the Raunchy and Offensive

Even if you know your target audience will respond to raunchy or offensive humor, you should still avoid including it in your ads. Others besides your target audience will have exposure to your ads.

If you offend too many people, it won’t matter if you reached a small group. Avoid ads that objectify and make light of serious subjects. You’ll likely lose even the people that find it funny due to the backlash.

Keep It Subtle

Sometimes hitting people over the head with funny messages can work. More often than not though, you’ll lose the overall message with forced humor.

Make sure humor elements blend with the ad message. The Twitter battles between Wendy’s and Burger King give a good example of this subtle humor. They poke fun at each other while promoting their different food offers. People have responded well to these battles and the companies had the chance to create more personal connections.

The trick here is that they didn’t shove the promotions in people’s face. They left the humor where it belonged, and increased their engagement because people wanted to find the interactions.

…But Make It Obvious

While you don’t want to hit people over the head, you also don’t want to force them to think too hard to get the point of the joke. If you have to explain a joke it’s no longer funny.

Jokes in advertisements follow this same principle. If people don’t get what you’re trying to do, the ad remains ineffective. Funny should be funny with no explanations.

PETA gives us another example of a funny fail. They came out with a list of animal-friendly changes to common sayings. They thought they were clever. The social media world found it annoying because they didn’t get the joke.

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

The best way to determine how people will respond to your message is to test out different ideas. You may have the perfect idea in your mind, but this doesn’t mean that idea will come across on the first try.

Take time to experiment with different emotional techniques when building your ad story. Try out different ways to create that personal connection brands need to have with their audience. Take the time to test these different methods out to find the ads that work for you.

Create Your Attention-Grabbing Video

To build your brand, you want to tell your story. Your different videos should continue to build on that brand story so your audience gets to know you.

Humor in advertising provides one way to grab attention. Whether you think humor will work for you, or you want to look into other video story-telling techniques, check out the video services we offer. Let us help you find that perfect story match.

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