Humor Sells: Here’s How To Integrate It Into Your Marketing Strategy

by Federica Rustico

12 min read
Last Updated: May 26, 2023

There's a solid reason why ads and commercials often use humorous content. It's an effective method that can have a big impact on advertising efforts and, in the end, boost sales. Adopting a lighthearted tone in one's advertising and marketing campaigns has many benefits, including the creation of emotional bonds, the ability to stand out from the crowd, the ability to make products more approachable, the encouragement of product sharing, and the addition of a brand's unique personality. Don’t believe me? Let's take a deeper dive into what the research is saying (can’t argue with scientists) about integrating humor into advertising and the possible advantages brands can gain from it. Let’s get this party started!

Why Humor In Advertising Is Effective

The ability to laugh is one of the most fundamental human connections (no joke, it's vital to the human psyche to be able to laugh). As such, it facilitates the processing of a wide range of data, from humorous stimuli to situations in which laughter is the only appropriate response to trying conditions. But this isn’t rocket science, if you think about it, I’m pretty sure you’ll notice that advertisers frequently employ humorous methods to catch our attention.

Humor sells: here's how to integrate it into your marketing strategy

Television commercials increasingly use humor in an effort to attract viewers' attention in an age when people are continuously distracted by their smartphones or other people. And once they’ve caught the viewers’ attention, BAM, the commercial has to succeed in making him or her laugh and remember the product. Advertisers sometimes choose high-profile moments on television, like the Super Bowl or the season finale of a hit show, to showcase risky or hilarious advertisements. At some point, the catchphrases and expressions used in a successful hilarious advertising campaign make their way into the vernacular and become embedded in popular culture. Consider such advertising mascots as the Geico Caveman, the Mayhem figure from Allstate, or the Old Spice muscle man. Adding some lightheartedness to a marketing effort can really make an impact on the target audience. Here’s why:

1. Humor creates emotional connections

Positive emotional relationships with customers can be formed via the use of humor. A positive emotional response, such as laughter, can help a brand stick in a customer's mind long after they've had any direct contact with the company. In order to enhance brand awareness and customer loyalty, companies like Old Spice and Geico have employed humorous advertisements to strike an emotional chord with consumers. The "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" campaign for Old Spice is a good example of the use of comedy to make a product more accessible and appealing to a large audience.

2. Humor breaks through the clutter

With so much content out there vying for people's attention, humor can be a strong weapon for standing out from the crowd and attracting new clients. Companies like Snickers and Skittles have used humorous marketing to set themselves apart from rivals and leave a lasting impact on customers. For example, Snickers' "You're Not You When You're Hungry" campaign used comedy to promote the brand and build a relationship with customers.

3. Humor makes products relatable

By making products and services more approachable, humorous content can boost customer engagement and ultimately, sales. Advertising campaigns from companies like Apple and Nissan have successfully used comedy to humanize the brands and their products to consumers. Similar to how Apple's "Think Different" ad campaign used humor to highlight how its goods were ideal for creative individuals, Nissan's "Shift" ad campaign used humor to market its automobiles as exciting and athletic.

4. Humor is shareable

Because of its infectious quality, humor is a powerful tool for spreading information and raising brand awareness. The advertising campaigns of companies like Airbnb and Airbnb for Work have successfully employed comedy to reach customers on a more personal level. Both the "Don't Go There, Live There" and "Work from Anywhere" campaigns from Airbnb for Work make use of comedy to promote the idea of traveling like a native.

5. Humor adds personality to brands

Brands can benefit from developing a voice and persona that resonate with customers by using humor. Coke and Pepsi, to name just two examples, have employed humorous advertisements to set themselves apart from the competition and stick out in the minds of consumers. Both the "Open Happiness" and "The Joy of Pepsi" campaigns by Coca-Cola and Pepsi, respectively, employed humorous advertisements to market their respective products.

But What Does The Research say?

When people laugh, researchers observe activity in regions of the brain associated with pleasure and rewards. That’s right, according to studies in neuroscience, our minds tend to dwell on things that have strong emotional associations. In light of the available data, it's not surprising that advertisers put stock in the power of comedy to grab consumers' attention. Our psyches give us kudos when we do this.

Similarly, the hippocampus, which is responsible for the formation of memories, is more active in a laughing person. The ultimate goal of any marketer is to have consumers permanently link their brand with a pleasant experience. Advertising that is intentionally created to evoke an emotional response (such as laughter) is much more likely to stick in the mind of the target audience. So companies can reach out to their target audience on an emotional level by using comedy in their advertising campaigns. A lasting impression can be made through the use of humor since it appeals to our feelings and elicits a favorable response such as laughter. It also establishes a link between the commercial and its viewers, who will ideally go on to purchase the advertised item.

Humor sells: here's how to integrate it into your marketing strategy

Because of the emotional responses it elicits, comedy can be used successfully in marketing. The Journal of Marketing published a study on the impact of humor in ads that holds up even today "humor is more likely to enhance recall, evaluation, and purchase intention when the humorous message coincides with ad objectives, is well-integrated with those objectives, and is viewed as appropriate for the product category. Under such circumstances, humorous advertising is more likely to secure audience attention, increase memorability, overcome sales resistance, and enhance message persuasiveness."

Advertisements that include humor are more likely to resonate with consumers, even if the product being promoted is relatively unfamiliar or has a narrow market. People in our society may not be interested in a business that specializes in organic and all-natural cosmetics, for instance. However, if the product promotion is clever, humorous, and viral, it will at least raise brand awareness as people forward the ad to their friends. A larger number of potential customers will be exposed to the ad, or the target audience could be expanded. Still, businesses must exercise caution when employing wit in marketing and publicity! 

How The Pandemic Has Changed Consumer Behavior

But what are consumers saying? To help businesses provide a better customer experience, Oracle and Gretchen Rubin recently conducted a study to determine what makes customers happy and the impact humor plays in marketing, advertising, sales, and customer experience (CX).

Eighty-six percent of respondents in the study reported that their conception of happiness has shifted in the past two years. Because of the pandemic, during the past two years, there haven't been many reasons for people to laugh hysterically or even crack a smile. Nearly half of those polled hadn't experienced genuine joy in over two years. And to make matters worse, about a quarter of people either have no idea or have forgotten what it means to be truly happy.

But the interesting thing for you is that 88% of respondents in the poll said they were open to trying new products if it meant they could laugh or smile while doing so. Almost 80% said they would spend more money to be happy. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed expressed the desire to buy happiness with cash, and over 90% of those surveyed tried to do so through online purchasing. If you're not catching the drift, let me spell it out for you: there's a serious opportunity for your brand here. 

These days, consumers look to brands and companies to provide them with a dose of humor and a return to normal. Roughly 80% thought brands could do more to make them happy. In fact, 91% said they liked it when businesses made them laugh. This means that using comedy with clients is a serious endeavor.

Brands Are Afraid Of Using Humor

The crazy part is that companies haven't done much in this aspect. According to the study, the vast majority of brands (90%) would rather have their advertising be humorous, yet just 20% actually do it. Even though just 16% of companies actually use comedy in their sales pitches, 77% of customers are more likely to buy from a representative who can make them laugh. Only around a quarter of businesses employ humorous subject lines in their email marketing campaigns, yet 69% of consumers say they are more likely to read an email from a brand if the subject line is humorous.

Although businesses are aware of the value of comedy, the study found that many are reluctant to employ it. Roughly 89% of companies also thought they could make their clients laugh or smile. And yet, 95% of us are too timid to employ humor while communicating with customers. One reason for this is how tricky it is to actually nail humor. Nearly half of consumers cite offense as a reason for abandoning a brand. The joke was so awful that the company had to "cancel" the brand. To truly appreciate humor, one must have an in-depth familiarity with the subtleties of many cultures. In order to get the jokes perfect, they require information and analysis.

However, it doesn't appear that companies are prepared for it. About 85% of firm executives lacked the necessary information, insights, and resources to effectively provide humor. More than half (55%) of people say they'd feel more comfortable employing comedy if they had greater access to information about and control over their target audience, and 32% say the same thing about having access to cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI). To achieve this goal, it is necessary to get insight into the clientele and to put that knowledge to use through the application of wit and intelligence in every engagement.

How To Use Data To Integrate Humor Into Your strategy

But we live in a data rich world and believe it or not, brands can use data to improve consumer contact and target audience-specific marketing by including comedy. Specifically, here's what you do:

1. Understanding audience preferences 

Brands may use data to learn what kinds of comedy work best with their target audience and what kinds of humor fall flat by analyzing responses to surveys and other forms of content. Data may reveal, for instance, which types of jokes and puns are most likely to be shared on social media, allowing marketers to better cater their comedy to the tastes of their intended audience.

2. Personalizing humor

Data may help marketers tailor their sense of humor to individual consumers by allowing them to narrow their comedic focus on the basis of demographic information. Some demographics, such as age, may respond better to lighthearted jokes, while others may appreciate sardonic humor more. To better reach their customers, brands can use this data to develop more targeted and effective marketing strategies.

3. Measuring the impact of humor

Brands can use data to see how successful their humorous efforts are in boosting customer engagement and conversions. Brands, for instance, can use this information to hone their humorous timing for future advertisements by revealing which ones garnered the most attention on social media, website visits, and ultimately, sales.

4. Testing humor

Before launching a full-scale advertising campaign, firms can use data to see how well their humorous messaging does. Brands can employ A/B testing to see which jokes or puns will best connect with their customers. This can improve a brand's chances of success by helping them avoid using comedy that isn't received well.

How GIFs Can Help You Integrate Humor Into Your Marketing Strategy

By now, I guess we can safely say that laughter is the best medicine. But not just that, according to marketers and researchers, it’s the secret ingredient to a successful marketing strategy. And while you may still be uncertain on how you’ll inject humor into your marketing strategy, get ready to put on a smile and take notes, because I have the answer for you — GIFs. Brands are increasingly turning to GIFs, or animated images, as a way to infuse some lightheartedness into their advertising campaigns. Here are a few examples of how companies can use GIFs to spice up their advertising by adding a little humor.

Marketing Efforts on Social Media: GIFs may be used to build lighthearted and fun social media campaigns that engage customers and boost brand exposure. As an example, a clothing line may use a GIF of a model performing a goofy dance in one of their designs to promote their products in a lighthearted and memorable way. Companies can add some humor to their social media profiles by making GIFs that make fun of current events or popular culture.

Humor sells: here's how to integrate it into your marketing strategy

Email marketing: GIFs are a great way to inject some personality into an otherwise serious message. To inject some lightheartedness into their email newsletters, a tourism company could, for instance, develop a GIF that features a variety of tourists making goofy faces or dancing awkwardly. Customers are more likely to interact with content that they find amusing or interesting, so this can boost open and click-through rates.

Landing Pages: GIFs can be used to make pages that load quickly and are fun for visitors to engage with. If you're a food company, for instance, you could make a GIF showcasing the many ingredients that go into your products to give your customers a better idea of what they're getting. Customers are more inclined to make a purchase if they have a personal connection to the goods.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, a marketing plan that includes a touch of comedy is like adding sprinkles to a sundae; it takes a good thing and makes it even better. You may boost sales, boost brand awareness, and make your marketing campaigns more memorable by using humor to connect with your target audience on an emotional level. As an added bonus, using statistics may ensure that a brand's humor hits the mark with its intended demographic.

But in order to build successful marketing efforts, companies need to know what kinds of humor their target demographic responds to. Brands may make better future judgments regarding their use of comedy by tracking the effect it has on customer engagement and purchases. As always, testing is crucial; after all, no one likes a stale joke.

Consumers are desperate to laugh more so don't be scared to add some humor to your marketing strategies. Adding a little humor might be the last touch that really sets your brand apart. And, as we’ve already seen, GIFs can definitely help you in adding that touch of humor you need. Don’t forget that data and comedy can work together in marketing to produce a more memorable experience for the consumer. Make your customers giggle, and you’ll see your company's name shoot to the top of the marketing heap.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes an ad catchy?

The best advertisements are those that reach their intended audience on an emotional level. Once the customer and your ad have established that connection, the language of your ad makes strong arguments for the purchase of the advertised good or service. The person has come to the conclusion that they require it and will continue to feel compelled to acquire it until they do so.

What makes an ad effective?

Ads that succeed in making their target audience take notice include some form of creative flair that helps them remember the advertised product or service. Ads that are truly innovative manage to surprise their audience, inspire them to take action, and stick in their minds for long after they've seen them.