Get Your Audience Laughing

photo of an elderly man laughing
Apr 23, 2015
Content Marketing

Maybe it’s the Australian larrikin culture, or maybe it’s because I’m young and immature but I love humour in marketing.

As more than just a source of entertainment, I believe humour in marketing can be extremely beneficial to brands because it creates positive associations and causes the brain to code the information deeper in memory.

To me, there’s no greater feeling in the world than enjoying a good laugh. If marketing communications can elicit that from you, then they have already created a valuable link between that good feeling and their brand in your mind.

My personal favourite example of this are the ‘Never Say No To Panda’ advertisements produced in 2010 for Arab Dairy, manufacturers of Panda Cheese.

Why use humour in your content marketing?

It’s proven that using humour appeals in your marketing can make your product, service, or cause seem more approachable and fun. But they also require a deeper level of cognitive processing than traditional marketing tactics.

We process humour through problem solving. We have to piece together the context, characters and other pieces of information in order to find the humorous result.

Take even a simple ‘knock-knock’ joke. In order to find the eventual punchline funny we:

That kind of problem-solving requires a lot more cognitive processing than simply listening – the activity required in regular marketing efforts. It is well known by marketers and psychologists the higher the level of cognitive processing required, the higher the likelihood for encoding the message in your memory.

Isn’t this the goal of all marketing efforts? To speak, and have your customers listen to and remember your messages?

Think your brand is too serious for humour? Think again!

If you’re reading this thinking your product, service or brand is too serious in nature to use humour in marketing, I challenge you to check out this advertisement created for the New Zealand Transport Agency in 2011.

This ad is arguably one of the most successful anti drink-driving marketing efforts ever made. It got young people repeating government-sponsored anti drink-driving messages at parties, and gave them a script for ‘speaking up’ against negative behaviour that their friends would find cool, rather than preachy. It accomplished this all through the use of humour.

The young male target audience was tired of being talked down to by governments about drink driving, they were un-shocked by statistics, they tuned out to images of car crashes. This original idea cut through the repetitive clutter and connected with the young male audience by identifying with their situation, values and attitudes.

When not to be funny

Of course, there are some limits. In the 30th episode of the Brand Newsroom podcast the exclusion for humour appeals in marketing were identified based on the advice of Tim Washer. The two off-limits topics were agreed to be natural disaster or personal tragedy. With creativity, subtlety and tact all other subjects can find some sort of humorous appeal, it just has to be executed tastefully.

Humour in Content Marketing

In this same episode of the Brand Newsroom podcast comedian Jordana Borensztajn was interviewed as an authority on the topic of using humour in content marketing.

Among the many benefits brands can enjoy by using humour in their marketing, Jordana identified how the sharing culture we now have on social media lends itself to using humour in marketing as it encourages people to share content.

Humour is also used as a means of creating a relationship with the customer. In Jordana’s experience, if a brand is bold enough to make her laugh it makes her feel as if:

“You get me, I understand you. We connect on a different level now.”

This connection contributes to brand loyalty, and a relationship with a brand. Nic Hayes, compares it to selecting a partner; you want them to look good and say the right things, but you also want them to be funny if you are going to enter into a long-term relationship with them.

This long-term relationship is what we call brand loyalty in the marketing world, which is, as the name implies, when a customer is extremely loyal to a brand and becomes a repeat purchaser. For most companies, the acquisition of brand loyal customers is the end-goal. If using humour might help you get there, why not give it a try?

If you want advice on how to incorporate humour into your content marketing, give us a ring. We have all kinds of funny ideas.  😀

By Carla Young

PS: What is a personality trait of a bad marketer?