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Humour in Advertising

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Autor:   •  May 22, 2011  •  Essay  •  2,110 Words (9 Pages)  •  3,294 Views

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Humour in Advertising


The Encyclopedia Britannica defines humor as a ÐŽ§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 consumerÐŽ¦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 recipientÐŽ¦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 seeÐŽ¦s the advertisement, they may laugh out loud. But after a while, although they still may smile at the joke, itÐŽ¦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 anotherÐŽ¦s mouth. The target market must always be considered. WhatÐŽ¦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 companyÐŽ¦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


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