Humour in advertising, does it work?

It’s been said that the key to effective advertising is trying to capture the wider audience’s attention; to create a memory. So question is, if an advert has humour in it, is it going to capture the target audience’s attention any better than if it doesn’t have?

Studies show that humour is used in almost half of all TV or Internet advertising and that it often contributes to having very effective ads. Humour can make ads memorable and enjoyable. However, it is important to make sure that the humour does not distract from the product being sold. If it does, the ad can be rendered ineffective.

For example, look at the coke ad in the YouTube clip below:

Most people would consider it to be funny simply because the coke machine is giving out endless bottles of coke, but in the midst of all that coke popping out of the machine, the ad is achieving its objective and relaying the message about the   product being advertised.

This ad works because it is about an everyday item doing something unusual.

The challenge in humour advertising, as in any type of advertising is not only to attract attention, but to capture that attention and focus on it. An ad like this coke one will definitely hold anyone’s attention as everyone is curious to see why the coke machine is giving out so many bottles of coke. Something we all secretly would wish for!

The key to humorous advertising is to ensure that the humour is appropriate for both the product and the customer, meaning that it should not be offensive to the customer, but should clearly relay the message about the product being advertised.

It’s also worth noting that perception of humour is different among different people and different cultures. What would be hilarious for one would leave a bad taste in another’s mouth. What works in one country, may be lost in another. With this in mind, it is imperative that the target market be considered when producing a humorous ad. For TV or Internet ads where the humour is visually displayed, it is important that the message is clear in order to avoid misunderstandings or misinterpretations.

Studies also suggest that humour is more likely to enhance the target audience’s recollection, evaluation and purchase consideration as well as their attention for a longer period of time. Humour gives without, necessarily requiring anything in return. Subtly, relying on recreation of that good feeling at the checkout.

One of my favourite TV ads which always captures my attention and makes me laugh is the All-bran Honey Almond cereal (Tall Jan is malicious). That is a classic example of an ad that captures its audience attention and stays with them for a long time.

So remember, next time you are in a supermarket, buy some “Tall Jan is malicious” cereal and laugh it up all the way to the checkout.

Share your thoughts on humour in advertising:

Do you think ads that contain humour are more effective than those that don’t?

Have you ever seen a humorous ad that you felt did a fantastic job of relaying the message about the product being advertised?

 

References:

 

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31 thoughts on “Humour in advertising, does it work?

  1. I my point of view the humor advertisement is important, but it is not essential. the basic and essential factor in the selling of one product is the quality. it is indeed that some of the consumers who do not know much about the product would be attracted by the funny advertisment. however is the quality is low there would no more consumers to purchase it again. thus the humor in advertisement is take into account but it is not essential

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  2. I think funny ads definitely have there place. Look at one we have seen a few time in this uni, the Old Spice ad…I found that to be hilarious (and obviously very clever) and so did a lot of other people, hence it viral! It was a massive success and turned their business around.

    I actually think thats were funny ads could win…if you really enjoy it you might share it with your friends. That way the company has you doing the work for them and they would get far greater reach.

    One that has stuck with me is this HBA ad…adorable and makes me giggle every time…my legs when that way and may head went that way! Classic.

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  3. advertisings are aiming to facilitates customers’ awareness and knowledge by providing information and attempts to persuade potential customers that the brand is superior, humor advertising is obviously attracting more awareness and arouse more customers’ curiosity to the brand identity. and humor advertisings are building the brand image in customers’ mind in a way that easier to be accept.

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  4. Laughing makes you feel better so of course humour in ads is good. It makes the ad memorable but may not necessarily result in more customers. There’s a quote going around about how people won’t remember what you said or did, but they will remember how you made them feel. I think that that’s what using humour in ads does & why you can identify with the brand. It’s an emotional reaction/connection.

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  5. Humour can make ads memorable and enjoyable. As you said before, the Old Spice Ad is a very funny one which stays in your mind – even many years after the campaign! The same with the Deezer Ad. Do you know it? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQF7cNcZaN0 I think your are right when you say that using humor in ads built up an emotional connection with the brand – in a very positive way. Its the same like hanging around with old friends – your are always talking about the funny stories you experienced together. Because these stories stay in your mind after years. And that is important. To create a positive connection with a brand or an experience. And I totally understand the argument that humor advertising is attracting more awareness and arouse more customers’ curiosity to the brand identity!!! Very good one 🙂

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  6. Humour ads can make viewer feel funny, but after funny nothing remember in their mind.Emotional ads rely on humour, fear appeals, subliminal ads, image appeals, and endorsement. Humour ads may break through clutter but pose a number of disadvantages such as wear-out, remembering the joke but not the brand etc.

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    • I think whether people remember the joke but not the brand all depends on how exactly the humour is integrated with the product in the ad. For example, with the coke ad, the free bottles of coke are well integrated in the ad and there is no way someone would remember the funny side of the ad but not the product. Of course there are other examples where an ad way funny, but there wasn’t a distinct association with the product. That’s probably one reason why I can’t think of a good example right now 😉

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  7. With the amount of advertising around us everyday, I think humour definitely helps to make us more aware and remember a product. I might laugh but I don’t remember a time where its translated to me buying. The Coke ad was interesting and while there was some humour there, the sharing and feel good images resonated more with me.

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  8. Great post. Love the coke ad. I hadn’t seen that one before. I agree with you that even though this ad is humorous, you don’t lose the message about what the brand is. The great thing about it is that you don’t know what’s going to pop out of the machine next and it gets better each time. It’s also great to watch the people’s responses and it captures that message that has been demonstrated in Coke ads in the past, that Coke promotes fun.

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  9. Hi Rachel,

    I believe humorous advertising is more effective than non-humorous advertising on the whole as it encourages brand recognition. Put simply, it is easier to remember an ad that incorporates humour in it and therefore easier to remember the products or messages conveyed in such ads. However, it is also topic dependent. For instance, some advertising is less able to utilise humour and may incur brand damage should they choose to use it under some circumstances. For example, advertising on the importance of cancer research or certain professional services by incorporating humour may run the risk of being taken less seriously or even ignored by its target audience because the respect and dignity of the service is compromised, hence why it is rarely done.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAgyKeG0YXU. I think this Subaru ad does a great job of incorporating humour. For an Australian audience’s perspective it is particularly relevant and successfully connects the product (Subaru Outback) with its environment and people in a uniquely Australian way. Many are also familiar with the ad’s inspiration “Australiana”, an Australian comedy hit and the works of Billy Birmigham (the ad’s writer and Australian comedian). Therefore, this pun-ridden campaign relates to its audience in an iconic way. It’s also an ad that crosses many media platforms (paper, TV and radio) and still successfully creates an impact on it’s audience.

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  10. Very good post!

    That Coke ad made me smile from ear to ear! It was gorgeous – but will I remember it tomorrow? Unlikely…

    Humor in advertising is fantastic, but like Ho mentioned the impact of the product is often lost in the punch line. I’ve been trying to recall a funny ad and unfortunately can’t think of a single one, but there have been plenty along the years that I can recall saying ‘have you seen the *** ad? it’s hilarious’.

    So i think companies need to be cautious – too much focus on the humor and your money might be wasted!

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  11. Interesting bolg. I think humour in advertising is a two-edge sword.
    It is not surprising that advertisers invoke humor, as it can make a big contribution to an ad’s memorability. Humor can make ads more enjoyable, involving, and memorable.

    However, if the humor distracts from branding and communication, it can impede the ad’s effectiveness. In general, in ads where both branding and humor are strong, the humor tends to be related to the brand. (Exceptions do occur, such as when an ad is part of a campaign in which the style, slogan, and/or characters are well established and closely associated with the brand.)
    In humorous ads where branding is weak, the humor is often unrelated to the brand.

    In addition, perceptions of humor are different around the world and across different audiences; this may limit the ability of a funny ad to be used across markets.Choice of media can have a substantial influence on the effect of the humor, because humor may be perceived differently depending on whether the medium is public or private. Online ads are a great example of ads which are generally initially viewed privately. But when the most successful online ads go viral, they can enjoy a very public life, this is a consideration when you intend your ad to go
    viral.

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  12. I do believe humour is a great way to advertise to people. If the humour is done right, it draws me into the advertisement. This becomes memorable and when I am looking for something in a product range, I will think back to that ad and select that product. For example the old spice commercials really got my style of humour. I have now been a client of theirs for years. Looking at the product I don’t believe it smells any better than other deodorants. However the advertisements really pushed the quality of the product in to mind.

    It also brings a great question to mind: has anyone referred an advertisement to a friend that didn’t have a form of humour in the ad? For me the only time I have is when they ad was really creative with their humour.

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  13. Great post! it is indeed a great initiative to have humour in advertising more importantly though i believe the interaction with people is the bonus here. If as a consumer you engage with a brand it is extremely positive!

    Humour is perception so no all brands can have humour in their advertising campaigns as humour is also very cultural in some countries a particular ad could work perfectly but no necessarily in others. With globalisation advertising campaigns work well in some countries but in some other don’t work at all, the reason may vary from cultural, believes, conservatives societies etc.

    Companies can advertise more economically as well on the internet instead of using TV, companies could try to launch funny adds hoping to go viral on the social media platforms available, if this happens it is a great result as it would be spoken and shared thousands of times all over the world.

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  14. I think everyone else has discussed the issue fairly well, but I agree humour can be very effective – as long as it doesn’t overwhelm the product or brand being advertised. One of the best examples I know of is this ad from Toyota: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RfAYnCxkK0

    Aside from being funny enough to remain in people’s memories, it also does a good job of highlighting the product’s key strength, which is the Hilux’s increased power over the previous model.

    Contrast it with this one from Carlton Draught: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eH3GH7Pn_eA

    The focus of the ad is not the product, but the size of the ad itself; if you asked the average person on the street a week after viewing it which brand it was for, I doubt many would be able to tell you. In this case, the humour aids retention of the ad itself, rather than the brand.

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  15. Thanks for this interesting post. These humor ads in your post are pretty good, which do capture my attention and awareness. While I think ads that contain humor are not always more effective than those that don’t. It depends on what product you are advertising and people’s different perceptions of humor. Just imagine that you are going to design an ad for a famous watch. It that suitable to do a humor ad in this case?

    In my opinion, humor ads have two sides. If you use the right humor, it could help communication between the brand and the market effectively. But if you use the wrong humor, it could easily obstruct it.

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  16. Great post. In my opinion, humour in advertising does work. These ads are enjoyable to watch over and over again and you feel connected with the ads. However, this is not essential. It is probably more important to focus on the product or the brand advertised itself rather than focusing on the humour. There are different ways to captivate the audiences, humour is just one of them.

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  17. Nice post !!
    Humor does make a commercial memorable. I always tend to remember the funny commercial first than the product. But Funny TV commercials can get customers in the door only the first time. After that it’s the product Quality, service to the customers and a good price which will get people coming back.

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  18. Everyone loves a humorous ad. We almost hope to see the ad every ad break, that is until we get sick of it! If a funny ad is shown to often, it has the opposite effect and annoys the consumer. So it is a difficult situation for marketers, how much is too much? How much does it take for the consumer to notice the ad and recall the brand? Where is the tipping point? The funny ad I am loving at the moment is the new Mars ad. I still smile when i see it and I must of seen it at least 20 times. However, I can safely say I have not eaten a Mars bar since seeing this ad and I dont think about the ad when I’m shopping, so has it really worked? If you havent seen the ad, have a watch below

    Liked by 1 person

  19. nice post and funny clip. I love humor advertising and play them many times after. I can remember which part is funny and share them with my friend however sometime I do not know what message which marketer want to provide. However in my opinion, marketers got successful strategy to make me send their video to everyone, to popularize their ads with no cost. You are right in talking about different humor ads affect differently to audiences. Audiences who are different in age, sex and culture will be attracted at different levels. Marketers should be careful in create humor ads to suit their target audience to get best result.

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  20. Wow.. Another impressive marketing campaign by Coca Cola. It has never failed to impress me.

    Yes humour can definitely give good impression and awareness to customers but will it be an effective marketing campaign to increase the sales? I would prefer Coca cola’s ads than All Bran’s. All Bran ads has good humour but it does not appeal me to buy the products while Coca cola ads give curiosity to me as the customer. I will buy Coke drink from that vending machine to know what happiness it will give me.

    Company has to be careful when using humour in the ads, it still has to create selling point from the humour otherwise they will just waste their money with humorous ads that cannot give increase in sales.

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  21. I definitely believe that humor contributes to effective ads because it can make ads more enjoyable, involving and memorable. The right humor can aid communication, but the wrong humor can impede it. Perceptions of humor are different around the world and across different audiences, this may limit the ability of a funny ad to be used across markets. Humor is subjective and often culturally specific. For example, in China, sarcasm is not widely appreciated. In Singapore, humor based on sexuality is taboo. Therefore, the references used should be universally understood in order for humor to work across markets.
    Humor may also be perceived differently by men and women. One type of humor that women finds enjoyable is that which makes jokes at the expense of men. I have read an example which is very interesting in explaining this. In Brazil, where fabric conditioners tend to be bought by women, and humor is rarely used in that category’s advertising, women appreciated an ad that showed a man doing the washing while the woman relaxed and watched TV. Housewives saw it as involving, distinctive and interesting, and most of them found it funny.

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  22. If it can make you laugh its going to stay with you!
    Innocent humour pays off the most. But in advertising if humour is derogatory, too sarcastic or black it can back fire as well.
    Also brand should be the centre point of ad and not the humour.

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  23. This very interesting post.
    I think I like the humor television advertising, because it would bring me happiness, not only that, it makes me easier to remember the ad. When people watch the ad, there is an ad you can not help laughing suddenly, and then you will remember the ad. Compared with a normal advertising, it must be humorous ad will make people have a deeper impression and laughing after finished watch, and will remember the ad.
    I also want to share a sense of humor I’ve seen ads, the ad was taken exaggeration to show humor. American Wendy burger and McDonald’s burger are competitor, designed a “Where’s the beef” of television advertising. Content is designed around three old lady at the table for lunch, order the bread with beef, but they just get big and thick bread, the old lady look around everywhere and even drill down under the table, can not find beef, this time, in which an old lady in front of the camera shouting “Where’s the beef”, sound and tone is very interesting, combined with exaggerated movements.
    This gave the audience left a deep impression, the implication is that if they go to Wendy’s for lunch, would not it bad luck, cannot eat beef, so put the viewer’s gaze toward Wendy burger. I think this is very interesting and successful ad.

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  24. Yes, I love a good laugh through an ad break. I remember the ad, I remember the brand and the product and I look forward to seeing the ad again. I also thinks it takes a lot of creatively..the humor needs to be relevant to the product they are selling or else it can have a negative effect…consumers will remember it for the wrong reason, doesn’t make sense, why are they trying to be funny!

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  25. in my opinion, the effectiveness of humor is depended on the popularity of the brand. For example, if the brand is famous, then people will think that this brand’s advertisement is creative, they are willing to buy relevant products. Inversely, if the brand is not famous, people will pay more attention to the humor itself rather than the product, as a result, customers may remember the advertisement without product. Funny :)

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  26. I love a humorous ad to watch but I think they are a waste of advertising money for the brand because you remember the joke and not the brand. A good example of this is, I loved the Rhonda and Ketut safe driver ads but I seriously thought it was RACV. When I recently decided to change car insurers, RACV stuck in my mind because of those ads! I later discovered those ads were AAMI. I would not have mistaken the boring old, “Lucky you’re with Aami” ads with the call centre girl for RACV.
    I agree you have to be careful with giving offense with humour too. Much of the population seems to be permanently offended about something or other these days so you have to play it safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Thanks for the post. I agree on enorton328’s comments that people will more likely to remember the joke but not the brand. There are multiple ways of making the ads, humour is just one of them. I would remember the Coke ATM ads, but might forget which coke brand it was.

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  28. Good post!
    If a company wants its customers to be more receptive to their ads, a bit of humour is always welcomed!
    If their creative strategy is based in humour, it might not be the best ad, but it will certainly catch people’s attention. Although they should not just focus on the humour aspect, whereby the audience will end up just remembering the joke and not the brand. They should keep a mixture of both where the brand and the joke is remembered.
    Making a good ad is cool, but making a funny ad is better.

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  29. Many of the most memorable ad campaigns around tend to be funny. Advertisers use this strategy to attract customers to their product. Audiences like to be entertained, but not pitched. People will pay more attention to a humorous commercial than a factual or serious one, opening themselves up to be influenced. The key to funny advertising is assuring the humor is appropriate to both product and customer. The balance between funny and obnoxious can often be delicate; and a marketer must be certain the positive effects outweigh the negative before an advertisement can be introduced.

    The best products to sell using humor tend to be those that consumers have to think the least about. Products that are relatively inexpensive, and often consumable, can be represented without providing a lot of facts, and that’s where there’s room for humor. Candy, food, alcohol, tobacco and toys/entertainment related products have proven to benefit the most from humor in their campaigns. One of the most important things to keep in mind is relevance to the product. An example of an extremely successful humorous campaign is the series of “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” commercials. The star, a tiny talking Chihuahua who is passionate about his Taco Bell got people repeating the company’s name across the country. The repetition of the company name and the actual content of the commercial reinforce the message in a relevant manner. Taco Bell saw a substantial rise in sales and their own mascot became a pop icon.

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