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Humour In Advertising

This print version free essay Humour In Advertising.

Category: Business

Autor: reviewessays 22 May 2011

Words: 2110 | Pages: 9

Humour in Advertising


The Encyclopedia Britannica defines humor as a Ў§form of communication in which a complex, mental stimulus illuminates, or amuses, or elicits the reflex of laughterЎЁ. Many marketers use humor in advertising as a way of appealing to consumerЎ¦s emotions. These positive emotions can potentially lead to cognitive processes that entice the consumer to purchase the related product. Doing it right means not only engaging the prospect but getting them to remember the product. However, that depends, among others, on Social and psychological factors, How a person has been socialized may affect there judgment of humorous advertising. Humorous advertising can be found in variety of forms including TV, radio, print media and online.

What Is Humour?

There is a rather large amount of terms standing in context with humour already, this indicates that there cannot be one single definition but rather a whole field concerned with this topic. Semantically, Attardo (1994) has built up this field in the following way:


There are many different advantages for using humor in advertising. People will tend to pay more attention to a humorous commercial, than a commercial that is a factual or serious one, opening themselves up to be influenced. They will actually look for your ads as they are easier to remember and talk about them if they are good. People like funny things; they relax and pay attention when they perceive that there is humor in the advertisement. It can help to put them into a good mood and helps to create a more comfortable atmosphere, which enables a more positive image and a more approachable product to the consumer.

Advertising humor is at its most effective when it is being used with established and frequently purchased goods. This is because a more established company has a stronger brand identity and is already well known to the consumer. Some good examples of these are the Bundaberg Rum campaigns, the Eat More Lamb campaign with Sam Kekovich, The Nandos campaign with the stripping mother. All these ad campaigns are supporting well know companies and products, and are help to remind and entice the consumer. Humour may increase product recognition and decrease skeptical attitudes, marketing studies proved that humorous ads get higher scores in the categories of recognition and product preference.

Some humours television advantages are:

„± Animation can be used to create a humours and friendly atmosphere e.g. Using Homer Simpson to promote Hungry Jacks

„± Celebrities and well known comedians are a great tool to gain the audiences attention quickly e.g. Billy Connolly to promote ING

„± Not happy, Jan! is an advertising catchphrase which has entered the Australian cultural vernacular which originated from a yellow pages commercial

Some humours radio advantages are:

„± Celebrities use there well know voice to endorse products e.g. John Cleese promoting radio advertising

„± Characters are used in a small skit as way of telling a funny story e.g. Robert and Norma promoting Hawksbury Valley Holden

Some humours print media advantages:

„± Well know characters that are used in a satirical manner to promote a product e.g. Spiderman in the Baygon campaign

„± Reminder advertising can be used to reinforce a humours commercial e.g. Telstra Bigpond great wall of china campaign

The main result is that humorous ads have a greater capability of evoking the recipientЎ¦s attention than non-humorous ads.


The disadvantages of humour in advertising all relate to the audience perception. Advertising humor needs to be well suited to its target audience. If they do not understand the joke, then the joke will be lost upon the audience. A sophisticated audience will understand your irony, satire, and puns, but a young audience may only understand slapstick comedy or a silly cartoon caricature. Inside jokes can be effective if the recipient understands that it was done for them, but nobody else will get it. Advertising humor has a relatively short life. The first time a consumer seeЎ¦s the advertisement, they may laugh out loud. But after a while, although they still may smile at the joke, itЎ¦s not so funny any more. Funny ads need to be replaced periodically which in turn increases cost. Another point to consider when using humor in advertising is that different things are funny to different people. A commercial that may leave one person gripping their sides from laughter may leave a bad taste in anotherЎ¦s mouth. The target market must always be considered. WhatЎ¦s funny in a client presentation may not be funny on an airplane, in a cinema or in a hospital.

Advertising humor can backfire. If you make a joke at the expense of any one group, you will surely alienate them which will in turn lose customers and devalue the companyЎ¦s image. Advertising humor also needs to be product specific. Everyone has seen funny ads they have liked so much that they have forgotten what was being sold. Advertising humor must relate directly to the company or products if they want to be remembered. Corporate image and industrial advertising are serious business. Unknown, risky, expensive, or sensitive products are not normally suited to the lighter touch of advertising humor.

The Marketing Environment

When dealing with humour marketers must consider the various factors in the marketing environment. Some of these factors include:

Social/cultural Factors: Marketers must understand that their audience and consumers are of a multicultural nature. This means that they must not offend and alienate but also appeal to a wide variety of cultures and society at large. Keeping the humour as light and family friendly as possible helps to create a more open and relaxed environment.

Changing gender roles: The current marketing environment is far different then many years ago. Males and females are no longer specific gender roles. This means that marketers can not just target one gender but must target the broader consumer. For example having a humours ad that targets females for cleaning products is no longer seen as the norm in todayЎ¦s society.

Market Segmentation

When marketing humours advertising, marketers must first segment the market into different specific groups. This allows the marketer to directly advertise to the consumers needs. Once the marketer knows what the consumer needs then they can decide how to advertise it in a humours manner.

Demographic: Humours advertising can be made to target specific types of people. This type of advertising can be targeted to appeal to a certain age group, humours advertising targeted at teenagers and young adults often use language that adults may not relate to or understand. Both male and females may also be targeted to play off each others sense of humour and lack of understanding the opposite sex e.g., alcohol ads that are targeted to men that suggest that alcohol and mates are more important then women.

Psychographics: Marketers have to consider consumers various lifestyles and interest when placing and making there humours advertising. Once you found out consumers interest then you can then find out the best way to communicate to them e.g., humours ads relating to motor vehicles and fast foods are often seen during and at popular sporting events such as motor racing and football.

Decision Making Process

Marketers must understand that consumers have a variety of options to choose from when making a purchase decision. The consumer market is consistently changing therefore the marketers must keep up to date with any trends. Consumer interest in popular celebrities and comedians is changing rapidly and there pulling my only last for a specific time. The customer does not want to be confused or bored while viewing the advertisement as this may them to lose interest and purchase a competitors product making it very important that the advertisement be fresh and innovative and maybe even spark conversation at the work water cooler.

Marketing tactics: Most humours advertising is used for low- involvement goods, i.e. FMCG and entertainment. This is because when using a humourЎ¦s approach a customer does receive a mass amount of information relating to the product which enables it to be high-involvement product. It is used to gain peoples interest through emotions, brand recognition and is often a product that is frequently used.

Relationship management: The customer relationship must be maintained and managed at a high level. This is so you will gain maximum value from your customers and keep a standard that they expect. Often marketers will use a humourЎ¦s story line over a long period of time to build a relationship with the customer. Once a certain standard is reached consumers will then expect a high quality from the brand image. It is far more cost effective to market to existing customers then it is to try and gain new customers.


Defining the consumers personality help the marketer to find patterns in characteristics of behaviors and thoughts. There are many theoryЎ¦s that define a consumer personality, these theories are:

o Psychoanalytic personality theory ÐŽV This relates to the idea that adult behaviour is the reflection of childhood experience, a lot of humor can be derived from childhood experiences.

o Social/environmental theory ÐŽV The theory that individuals undergo constant change and creative development based on there surrounds.

o Self-concept theory ÐŽV This is a set of attitudes a person has about there self-image and there self-esteem.

o Trait theory ЎV Is based on personЎ¦s characteristics.

All these theories are used by marketers in determining the consumerЎ¦s personalities in regards to humor and how they will react.

Brand Personality ÐŽV For maintaining its personality its humor must be consistent and distinct. A brands personality could be highly damaged if a consistency is not met.


Consumer attitudes play a major part to the success of humourЎ¦s advertising. The consumer may already have a predisposition in regards to a product or feeling. The advertisers must keep in mind consumers attitudes will vary in strength and reflect on there values.

Attitude change: When the consumerЎ¦s aspirations have changed and the object of the advertising is no longer humours, the attitude of the consumer will change. Influencing feelings causes change within the consumer, which means more emphasis must be placed on the conditioning of the consumer. Advertising that is also motivational not only funny will make the consumer purchase the product. By using humours advertising you can change a consumerЎ¦s attitude towards a product or brand by making them more creditable, welcoming and friendly to the customer. For example Got Milk? is an American advertising campaign encouraging the purchase of cow's milk which was created by the advertising agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners for the California Milk Processor Board in 1993 and later licensed for use by milk processors and dairy farmers. It has been running since October 1993. The campaign is credited with putting life back into milk sales nationwide after a 20-year slump.

Situational Influences

Marketers must always consider the various situational influences that can occur and effect advertising. These are things which will relate to specific times and places and are not always foreseen for example Bridgestone to be airing humours Peter Brook endorsed advertising shortly after his could be seen distasteful in the consumerЎ¦s eyes. This means humoursЎ¦ advertising relies heavily on timing so as to capture the right audience at the right situation.

Message Communication Situation: It is very valuable to couple humours advertising with appropriate media. This will allow the consumer to feel more comfortable as they are already in a relaxed state. For example advertising in a humours way in the ad breaks of a prime time comedy television show.


Our conclusion is that humorous ads have a greater capability of evoking the consumerЎ¦s attention than non-humorous ads. Humour, however may distract the consumers attention from the actual product towards to the ad itself. In humorous ads, the humour itself must be easily recognizable; otherwise it runs the risk of not being understood by the consumer. Forms like satire, irony or sarcasm might be misinterpreted due to their complexity, and therefore might Ў§ruinЎЁ the adЎ¦s message. Humour may exert a positive influence on source liking but may also enhance previous experiences or attitudes towards the product. If the consumerЎ¦s attitude has already been positive, this attitude might be even improved. However, the same could also apply to negative attitudes, them being even worsened. All in all, humour should be used in Ў§reminder adsЎЁ or Ў§confirmation adsЎЁ so that dissonances concerning the product decision can be avoided. If the consumer already has a negative attitude towards the product, more serious ads ought to be used.