Humor in Marketing: Fooling with Your Audiences
Do you ever wonder if you should use humor in your marketing? When it works, it’s great. But when it fails, it fails hard. Let’s talk about when to use humor and when to avoid it.
When Humor in Marketing Works
When humor works, it helps a brand stand out from the crowd. Great example – Old Spice Guy, attractive, fit, self-proclaimed perfect, gets the girl. It’s not a hard sell, although the product is prominently mentioned. Novelty is the thing. And it appeals to FOMO emotion. Use the product and be as cool as Old Spice Guy. It’s not just a guy thing, either. Humor makes it appealing to women, too (“The man your man could smell like”), and Old Spice is capitalizing on that with a new campaign about women sneaking Old Spice skin care products. Plus, its Twitter account has the same cheeky attitude.
Humor Draws Your Attention
When used properly, it makes people feel seen or understood. A great example is Progressive’s commercials with Dr. Rick helping young people to not become their parents. It works so well because it’s a common fear everyone has (I’m assuming. Sorry, Mom). It’s playful, and it draws attention.
When Humor in Marketing Fails
Using humor is risky because when it fails, it fails hard. Some may find it funny; others may find it in poor taste. And research on humor in marketing shows it can actually hurt a brand — even if consumers find it funny. Humor backfires if the ads involve violence or aggression, make fun of a subset of people rather than the general population or motivate avoidance because people find the ads offensive.
Chase failed to “read the room.” Times were tough for a lot of people, and consumers were offended. A presidential candidate at the time even snapped back on social media.
Marketers should also be careful with sarcasm. In a video format, it can work, but in a written format such as in a blog post, it can be tricky. What it all comes down to is your brand’s tone. Stay true to your brand and be authentic. Your brand voice shouldn’t be sincere and helpful and then suddenly have sarcasm. Consistency is key.
Need help crafting marketing messages that resonate with today’s audiences? Contact an AMPERAGE content strategist. We’ll capture your brand voice and make your story and message stand out from the crowd perhaps even using humor in marketing.