It’s a proven fact that humor is a great driver for advertising performance.
In fact, along with fear (yay, fear!), it’s the top emotion to elicit in your audience to hold their attention and keep your brand at the top of their mind.
Combining the attention-grabbing power of a funny advertising gimmick with the easy casual consumption available through social media seems like a no-brainer – So, of course, companies worldwide are jumping on board, with ads like these from Squatty Potty and Dollar Shave Club leading the way.
But before you jump into making funny videos, spicing up your posts with cat GIFs, or simply throwing a pun or two into your ad text, there are a few considerations that must be made.
Is it appropriate?
Firstly: Do you sell something serious, like life insurance? Then you likely don’t want to use humor for your ad, as it will come across as distasteful. Not everybody can be this guy, after all.
Additionally, you should always be sure that the subject of your humor is appropriate, unlike this company using the infamous Taliban shooting of Malala Yousfzai to make a tenuous joke about “bouncing back.” While controversy can lead to clicks, a half-baked attempt at humor is much more likely to garner negative press and hurt your brand.
If in doubt as to whether or not humor is appropriate in your industry, stick to your product/service features and leave the humor to those of us who deal with service and products that are a little more, well, dull.
However, if you do sell something “boring”, like car parts or marketing services, listen up – You absolutely need to make your product relatable and interesting, and humor can be a great shortcut!
Is it current?
Don’t be afraid to be topical, as long as you (or your ad agency) are willing to diligently change things up as the current trends fade out of the public eye.
For instance, making a joke on Facebook about how your bar is the best Pokémon Go gym in town, and that anyone who claims it can earn a free drink(redeemable once) is highly likely to drum up some extra business (at least, this month).
On the other hand, if you go with a sponsored Facebook post that makes an reference to the first Harry Potter film or Lord of the Rings, you run the risk of looking like this guy.
Is it relatable?
You should always ask for the input of others in your company. (This is a great time to consult some of those millennials everyone is talking so much about.) Humor is highly personal and subjective, so the more input, the better. Typically, they will be your target market, and who else is more likely to know what they are interested in?
Don’t trust, test!
Once you’ve ran your idea past a few trusted people, go the extra mile and test your ads. Run a humorous ad against fairly bland ad copy – if it performs better, run it against another funny ad, and when you’ve tested every option you can think of, come up with a few more ideas to test again. Your first idea is unlikely to be your best idea, but it may be the first iteration of a great campaign.
Have a backup plan
Now, let’s say you’ve considered all these factors, run a few tests, and now you have a terrific ad. It’s compelling, makes people laugh, and converts well. It is crucial that you do not get complacent or assume that a great ad campaign will last forever. Ads lose relevance surprisingly quickly, especially if you have pumped it full of pop culture.
Have some new ideas ready to go at any time; you will need them earlier than you might think. If you want your business to come across as culturally relevant, I recommend always having some ad copy in development, ready to swap in when the moment is right.
Finally: DON’T ASSUME YOU ARE FUNNY.
I really cannot stress this enough. Find people to test your material on (no family or employees, the former are biased and the latter are bribed). Get some good feedback, make edits, and try again. If you’ve stuck around this long, and realized how many times I’ve told you to test your ideas, then congratulations! You’re just about ready to go!
Before you run off and create some hilarious ad copy that revitalizes your business and drives sales through the roof, listen to my last point of advice. Stay on brand. This is perhaps the most important thing I can tell you about humor and marketing, together or independently.
You may moonlight as a stand-up comedian with an edgy routine, but the target demographic for children’s school supplies is not going to appreciate or enjoy your witty correlation between going back to school and the futility of the human condition. Save that one for the open mic night at your local watering hole. However, if you tie in something that appeals to your target demographic, while representing your brand well, humor can go a long way in making an ad stand out.