Old Spice. Taco Bell. E-Trade. Blendtec. Budweiser. Some of the most memorable advertising campaigns in recent history, regardless of company size and marketing budget, and whether broadcast, print or online-only, have involved humor. As an audience, consumers most enjoy being entertained instead of pitched, and so appealing to them emotionally can lead to further engagement with your product in the future. Utilizing social media can be an inexpensive and extremely effective way to do that as an extension of your ad campaign.
Great funny example, one of my all-time favorites is... The "Where's the beef?" commercial was No. 47 in Advertising Age's ranking of the top 100 campaigns of the 20the century, and "Where's the beef?" ranked No. 10 on its list of top 10 slogans for the century.
The commercial's brash humor was unlike anything seen before. Although Wendy's executives threatened to pull the campaign a week before it aired. Wendy's sales jumped by 31% and its profits by 24% and with making the chain a major competitor in the burger wars.
Cliff Freeman was the legendary Ad Man behind this brilliant concept as well as Little Caesar's Pizza Pizza ads and OutPost.com Super Bowl commercials.
But today, corporations communicate more individually in areas of social and electronic media, many focus on creating a “polished brand” image, which simply means making it look like what’s expected. Sadly, this often results in boring ads and forgettable websites, all-the-same branded content and lame videos. It doesn’t help the company or brand connect emotionally nor differentiate from the other “polished brand” offerings.
Rarely do you hear people after seeing a print ad, TV spot or online video saying: “That was hysterical!” More often companies or brands attempt connection by tugging emotional heartstrings creating small trauma. In most film festivals, dramas outnumber, comedies by 20 to 1. Why? The great 18th century actor Edmund Kean answered us as he lay dying: “Death is easy, comedy is hard.”
Still, humor is a worthy aspiration, accomplishing tasks seldom achieved by serious approach.
Humor establishes rapport – Almost all people love to laugh. Non-offensive jokes can easily establish likeability and trust. A joke related to a difficult situation can disarm a prospect or client when delivering “tough medicine.”
Relationships are often built on experiences of shared humor. People do business with people they like, and if they smile and laugh every time you are near they associate you with happiness. Combined with knowledge, humor enhances expertise, demonstrating confidence and strength.
Humor triggers memorability – Many strive to create “AHA! moments” in customer’s minds. This occurs when one is thinking one way and you turn their head to think another. Those are the very mechanics of a joke punch-line. In our example I suggest a Midwestern state and quickly turn it to a statement of finances. The unexpected wordplay registers in the brain as humor, which triggers endorphins that encode for memory. This is why a childhood joke exists in our repertoire decades after introduction.
Humor creates alignment – A joke is based upon shared experience. Humor works well when there is communal understanding of the issues at hand. By identifying a common problem and creating a punch-line around it, insiders will adopt the punch-line as a trigger representing the issue. So when no one remembers to turn off the lights when leaving, a giant light switch painted on the wall makes people laugh and remember their responsibility without embarrassment.
The time has never been better for brands to employ social media when launching a new advertising campaign, particularly one with humor. The main reason for this: social media (and namely YouTube) is largely looked at as an entertainment medium. People don't often turn to YouTube to garner product information, but they do go there to watch funny videos. When they find one that resonates with them, the likelihood that they'll click the share button to spread via their networks on Twitter and Facebook, email it to a friend or talk about it becomes even higher.
As a small company or brand, you can take the chance with a funny video and just post it on YouTube to see how it's received. Sometimes it fails, but if it's done properly, it can be a chance for those companies to compete with much larger brands without spending much money.
Advertising... The Greatest Risk is Being Ignored!!!
You can entertain or make 'em chuckle with the soft sell. And laugh all the way to the bank...?
Cheers! - rb
More About the Content Creator: Rory W. Bolen
Rory is a different kind of a guy.
Rory William Bolen is best described as… If Dennis Rodman, Hunter S. Thompson, Ferris Bueller, Howard Stern and Evel Knievel had formed into one knucklehead… He is married and has a English bulldog named Roxxy (2-XX's because she's double trouble). Rory is also the Creative Director for Bad Monkey Circus Agency - a Chicago based ad boutique shop.