Everyone’s a Comedian: Using Humor in Advertising

Digital Marketing Strategy

Why did the marketer cross the road?
To reach her target audience!

Whether you found that gem of a joke knee-slapping or eye-rolling, it’s still a fact that using humor in advertising is a tried-and-true method of garnering engagement and capturing attention. It makes advertisements memorable, increasing shareability and reach. Infusing your ads with a little humor takes the emphasis off the product, and refocuses it on the audience. Sometimes it pays to be funny when evaluating your copywriting and brand voice.

Why it matters

Humor makes your brand memorable. It can increase engagement, brand awareness, and even reach. Shareability is on your side when it comes to humor; your brand message can spread far and wide on the interwebs. Humor encourages people to interact with your message, and indicates that you don’t take your brand too seriously. Social media is the sphere where a humorous brand voice is most effective. People log in to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to connect with their friends, get news, and find entertainment. Social media doesn’t need to be serious all the time, and if your brand can find a fresh and humorous take on the world, it could result in viral content — but only if you’re actually funny.

“Social media doesn’t need to be serious all the time, and if your brand can find a fresh and humorous take on the world, it could result in
viral content — but only if you’re actually funny.”
click to tweet
 Click to Tweet

Now, before rushing off to change all your messaging, remember that humor isn’t always a great tool for driving sales. Evaluate your marketing funnel and identify where your messaging could use a refresh. Humor is most effective in the awareness and retention stages. When done successfully, you can transform that awareness into purchase intent later.

Who’s the class clown?

Brands have been successful at humor for decades, but let’s focus on the here and now. Use other brands as inspiration and build on their successes to hit your own home run. Here are a few Twitter examples that tickle our funny bone.

  • Wendy’s: Wendy’s has been making headlines and earning Twitter cred with their user roasts and trash-talking of other fast food brands. Whether they’re taking digs at McDonald’s about frozen burger patties, or poking fun at their own followers, their fresh and blunt voice exemplifies internet humor. It’s all in good fun, and has garnered widespread attention.
  • Netflix: The Netflix marketing team has it easy. With great shows and original content up the wazoo, their product is already fun and lighthearted. Still, they’ve mastered the use of gifs, pop culture, and irreverent humor.
  • Denny’s: When you think of humorous social media accounts, Denny’s comes to mind. They’ve been producing comedic content for years. Their focus on pancakes and off-the-cuff tone makes it a favorite of social media users.
  • The Curiosity Rover: NASA is known for their successful Twitter game, but they’ve outdone themselves when it comes to the Curiosity Rover page. With a little humor and fun copywriting, they’ve created a personality for their robot. Infusing fun with science is a noble pursuit, and we commend them for it!

How to be funny

It’s all well and good to decide that humor is the best avenue for your brand. But if that doesn’t translate into witty copy or your humor isn’t tailored to your audience — in short, if your jokes don’t land — it’s not going to work. There’s no legitimate, surefire way to make your brand funny, but here are some tactics to get started in your pursuit of laughter and internet awareness.

  • Poke fun at yourself. Not sure how to begin? You know your brand better than anyone, so why not start there? Use your brand or slogan in your jokes. If you’ve been particularly bland in the past, amp it up and try some satire. Every brand is unique, but don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Know your audience and establish your sense of humor. Creating humor that’s tailored to your audience is key, whether that comes in the form of dad jokes, puns, sarcastic jabs, or over-the-top irreverent comments. Use social listening to find out what your audience engages with and use that insight to produce the best content. When you find something that works, you can build on it to establish your sense of humor.
  • Be current and topical. One of the best ways to be funny is simply to be current. Keep track of newly emerging memes, and use tracking and social listening to know what’s going on within the online sphere. If you’re tuned into your audience and understand current content, you can more easily jump on the trends that seem applicable.
  • Engage with the community. Great humor often comes from awesome community management. Wendy’s crowning achievements of hilarity are their seemingly off-the-cuff responses to Twitter followers. Make sure your community manager is dialed into the audience and voice, and try responding in the moment to fans.
  • Always get two sets of eyes on jokes. This should really be the number one tip. Don’t let something you personally think is funny go live without putting it in front of someone else first. Humor can be taken the wrong way, especially if it’s sarcastic or satirical in nature. In the current online landscape, you need to be careful that your audience knows where you’re coming from so you don’t unintentionally offend someone.

Memorable content doesn’t need to be funny, but it can certainly help! Now that you’ve got examples and tips to work from, you can take your brand from bland to brilliant. Give it a try, and become the class clown!

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