by Andrea Spencer
People like funny people. They like funny books, funny movies, funny T-shirts.
So why do businesses shy away from funny marketing so often?
I mean, if you think about the commercials from years ago that you remember, it’s always the funny ones, right? Like the Dollar Shave Club commercial or the Red Spice guy!
So why do our clients seem to be so afraid of using humor in their marketing?
We’re here to make the case for funny business in your business.
Why use humor?
Why use humor? Why not just make a nice, safe commercial or social post that gets your message across and makes sense to the consumer? (Well, humor should do both those things, but we digress…)
You and your marketing team should crack open your joke book because:
- Humor is memorable and attention getting. If it’s done right, it causes a (good) stir.
- It humanizes your brand. Especially if you have a product or service that isn’t typically people-friendly or relatable.
- It increases remembrance! And that’s what we all want, right? To have our product, service, or company to be remembered by the client. That way they think of you next time they’re shopping or need your services.
- Being funny boosts engagement and sharing. Social media is where it’s at, right? Well you can’t force people to share your stuff (well, I guess you could, but you probably shouldn’t!). But when you make a funny commercial or a hilarious post, they want to show it to their friends! It gives you free social media advertising. Sweet!
Who is using humor?
Um, everyone. Everyone uses humor. Even companies or groups you wouldn’t expect it.
Have you ever checked out the TSA’s Instagram? It’s hilarious!
Even AIDS’ foundations have come up with engaging, clever jokes about a very serious topic.
Trust us, if you try to tell us that no one in your industry is using funny marketing, we can find an example to prove you wrong. And if we can’t, that’s even better! That way you get to be a trendsetter.
How does humor in marketing work?
There are a few different “formulas” for using humor in marketing. Here they are:
Jokey jokes: our message + silly alternative
Here, the focus is on the message but it’s portrayed in a silly way. This is where that Dollar Shave Club commercial that we keep talking about comes in.
This commercial was made in one day on a shoestring budget, but it took the internet by storm. It’s hilarious, viral, and gets the message across. Once you’ve seen it, you know what the company does and you get a sense of how they work. They’re serious about their product, but not much else. We dig it.
New choice: message + fresh use of normal elements
Here, the focus isn’t necessarily on the product, but the product is intrinsic to story. For example:
This commercial is funny and quirky. It doesn’t say outright, “hey, buy our beer!” but it tells a story and the product matters in the story. It shows the viewer that the beer is intimately connected to hanging out with your friends, having a good time, and enjoying the game (although not so much that you try to take some of it home).
Heightening: message + unique angle + logical exaggeration
Here is where you take your product’s effects or benefits to the extreme to make it funny! For this one, we always think of those Starburst commercials. Here’s one, but there’s tons of them out there:
They’re silly and goofy, but they still make a point about the product. Starbursts are SO intensely juicy that they can only be made in the land of intensity! Kitschy and cute!
Benign violation: a wrong + safety
People can be cruel. We laugh at pain. When your friend falls down the stairs you help them out but you’re probably laughing while you do it, right?
Just think about those Sour Patch Candy commercials. First the candies are sour, then they’re sweet. So they’ll get someone in trouble or make their life harder, but then they’ll help a little.
The teenager tries to sneak in after curfew, but the Sour Patch Kids foil her plan. But in the end, they give her a sweatshirt to cover up so she doesn’t get yelled at for her outfit, too.
We laugh at the girl’s pain because it’s funny, but also because it’s not that serious. If you take the benign violation too far, it just gets gory and a gross.
Get Your Funny On
We say go for it, go get your funny on. Give it a whirl, try something new, and see what you come up with. Worst case scenario, it doesn’t work and you try again. Best case scenario, it’s hilarious and goes viral. Sounds pretty good to us.