Online businesses start with the attraction of visitors to their stores and the goal of creating an abundant flow of prospects. Eventually, customers come for products, but that’s not the only reason. They also need some knowledge, involvement, recognition, and … fun.
Humor in marketing seems to be that Holy Grail that is able to breathe life into any brand and make it go viral immediately. But, is it really so simple and beneficial? Let’s reveal both sides of humor in marketing and discover whether this approach is suitable to all audiences and in all circumstances.
The Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising polled more than 29,000 Internet respondents in 58 countries to measure consumer sentiment on 19 forms of advertising formats. Forty-seven percent of global respondents agreed that humorous ads resonated most. Source: Nielsen.com
Consider Your Audience
Any promotion or message should be closely relevant to the cultural and aesthetic characteristics of your customers and be in unison with your brand voice and tone. If you explore some popular hilarious commercials, you will certainly recognize that most of them are not possible for your brand and would hardly be successful among your customers. So, the differences of audiences make it impossible to simply copy another brand’s ideas.
Usually, it is very difficult to be witty in front of a wide audience, but narrow audiences also require you to consider their tastes. There are a lot of examples of brands failing by using inappropriate humor in their ads. So, you should steer clear of such controversial topics as sex, politics, religion, etc.
Humor of Different Products
The good thing about humor is that it is applicable to any product or service you sell. If desired, you can find successful marketing campaigns with a sparkling sense of humor from FMCG, insurance, health care, beverages, fast food, perfume, and more.
If we take a look through the Wark 100: The world’s best marketing campaigns list, we’ll find hilarious marketing campaigns in almost all categories:
- Alcoholic Drinks (Foster’s: “Good Call”)
- Apparel & Accessories (Cole Haan: “Don’t Go Home”)
- Business & Industrial (Adobe: “Photoshop Live - Street Retouch Prank”)
- Food (Oscar Mayer: “Say it With Bacon”)
- Retail (Kmart: “Ship My Pants”)
- Soft Drinks (Evian: “Baby and Me”)
- Telecoms (Virgin Mobile: “Fair Go Bro”)
- Travel, Transport & Tourism (Expedia: “Travel Yourself Interesting”)
We didn’t find funny campaigns in some categories like governmental or non-profit companies, which is absolutely natural for them, of course.
This list clearly shows that some of your competitors are using humor to create great promotions right now, and the good thing is that nothing prevents you from doing the same.
Idea is the Thing
If you have a great idea, in today’s market you do not always need a huge budget or a lot of other resources. Sometimes small companies have certain advantages compared to big corporations, when it comes to creating and promoting hilarious videos on YouTube and other social media channels.
For example, you can watch the video created by Hello Flo telling us a story about a girl who fakes her first period and how her mom throws a "First Moon Party." You will probably agree that such an ad would be impossible for a famous company because of its controversy. But, it certainly requires a small budget as it just tells us a funny story in a very attractive and natural manner. As you see, the recipe is simple and complex simultaneously.
Choose Relevant Occasions
If your brand voice sounds funny and humorous from the very beginning, you will face few problems starting a new campaign. But, if you are mostly serious, and just want to fool around, you should wait. That is the destiny of all serious brands and people as well – they need to choose some appropriate moments for good fun.
April Fools Day
April Fools Day is the right occasion for any brand. This is your finest hour to make fun and change the opinion of customers about your company. Here is the roundup of the most prominent business jokes on that day in 2015:
- Kotex: “Left-handed tampon”
- Marmite: “Transparent Marmite”
- Burger King’s “Flame Grilled Fragrance”
- SunLife’s Beard Insurance: “Protect facial hair and personal identity, starting from just £3 a month”
- Virgin Trains equipped with exercise bikes, cross-trainers and running machines instead of traditional seats “to create the world's first ever on-board travelling gym on its fleet of Pendolinos and Super Voyager trains...”
- The Coca-Cola London Eye partnership with the British Space Research Program, bringing the first Zero Gravity Capsule experience to the cantilevered observation wheel
- Virgin Media Business wi-fi equipped swimwear
Christmas is also a great time for good jokes and high spirits, when customers favorably perceive almost all topical ads:
Humor in International Markets
Using humor in international markets is even more complicated, since you need to know the humor “standards” of the country you are selling in. For example, the British like irony with a straight face, while Germans and Japanese do not see humor as appropriate for business.
Jokes may help you melt the ice, but you should always consider possible failures due to wrong translations or just the absence of equivalents to the joke in a particular culture. So, it is better to test your humor on some native speakers before poking fun publicly.
Using humor in marketing can be both beneficial and destructive for your brand, so you should keep everything under your control. But, if you know your audience well and possess an intelligent sense of humor, this kind of promotion has huge potential for your company and can be successful.