People like funny commercials. No matter what the product or service is, if it makes the consumer laugh, then people are going to share the commercial with friends, and if the commercial is done well, the brand will stick with the consumer for some time. Why we associate certain emotions positively or negatively is something that marketing scientists have been trying to put a lock on for decades, with no real solution. In the Atlantic, guest columnist Nigel Hollis talks about why certain advertisements are effective, and why some are not. He also provided glimpses of his favorite or noteworthy ads.
Here, we are going to concentrate more on the funny and positive associations we make with advertising, especially good ones. Why are funny ads effective? Dick Clark put it, "humor is always based on a modicum of truth." We like funny commercials because it helps us laugh or recognize something that we have encountered before in our lives. Take, for example, telling your little one that they have superpowers.
Hopefully we all have had the pleasure of seeing a little kid beam when their super powers work! Another reason why funny commercials are effective is because they can capture our imagination. They help us to be silly. Wieden + Kennedy's Old Spice campaign was a perfect example of poking fun at the macho male, getting men to imagine or pretend to be that man your man could smell like. Effective commercials have to correctly pinpoint a norm in a particular culture. W+K saw that there haven't been any real commercials about the Alpha Male, so to bring attention to it, they took it over the top.
Overall, humor, as long as it is done well, can improve the recall of your advertisement. Sometimes brands and agencies get too worried about how funny the ad is and forget to concentrate on its effectiveness. We have seen that many times, because it is hard not to overthink the campaign.
What are your thoughts about using humor in advertising? How much of a double-edged sword, like Hollis claims in his Atlantic post, is humor?