Stefani Kirilova

4.11.2021

Should you use humor in your advertising strategy?

The verdict is here. People love watching funny content - anything from cats meowing “I love you” to Scottish people trying to pronounce the word “Purple Burglar Alarm”, we know the good stuff by the way it makes us feel.

How do we know for sure that humor sells, though, especially in Finland? Well, we did the work so you don’t have to. Our influencer marketing report for 2021 has been out for a while and if there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that entertaining content is the leader in preferred genre amongst all ages - not just Gen Z. Curious to read what else we found out? Click here and download the full report for more creative insights (in Finnish).

So why does entertaining content perform so much better than everything else? The secret lies with a little thing called advertising psychology. That’s right, advertisers are definitely not new to what makes you tick. In fact, in addition to all the cookies they use to track your preferences, the colors they decide on for their campaigns and the thousands of euros they spend on influencers, they also use emotion to connect with their audiences. Some of the most popular used emotions are:

Happiness - Our beloved humor, or anything else that puts a smile on our faces. The aim is to get you to relax and feel good.

Fear - We...uhhh don’t recommend this one. It’s the strongest emotion but also the trickiest since everyone’s fear threshold is different. And why would you want someone to purchase your product/service out of fear anyway? That’s just long-term bad business.

Anger - This one is a bit more lenient than fear. Think Peta ads, the graphic images they post and the advocacy they stand behind. Anger leads to action, so it should be used sparingly in acute problems that require immediate resolution.

Sadness - Nostalgia and  empathy, oh the sweet symphony! Tried and tested, sadness creates connections and can be especially effective for big occasion campaigns.

Disgust - This one is perfect for health brands who are trying to make their audience rethink their current lifestyle and offer their product/service as a holy grail solution.

Surprise - Since surprises are inherently either good or bad, they can be used in conjunction with fear and happiness. The latter one being our recommendation, of course! Great opportunity for good humor.

Why do we recommend humor? Think about it for a second. We buy things from people we like. And we like people who make us smile. If used correctly, humor indicates higher intelligence levels, making your brand seem more trustworthy, down to earth, easily approachable and “with” the current times. The days of blue collar commercials are over because we’ve stopped associating credibility with appearing stuck-up and rigid. And besides, in the era of influencer marketing, if you want to sell something, you better have a good personality, am I right?

Let’s see some examples of humor being the selling point:

Dollar Shave Club - Our blades are f**king great!

Way to differentiate from competition brands such as Gilette! Dollar Shave Club went for honesty, cheekiness and attention-grabbing humor to illustrate their point that you don’t need to pay an outrageous price for something as simple as a shaving blade. And guess what? This video alone generated over 12 000 orders in the first 2 days of coming out. Crazy, right? We’re now looking at over 27 million views worldwide.

Snickers - You’re not you when you’re hungry

Now here’s a funny way to do influencer marketing! This creative concept has seen Elton John perform in a rap battle, Betty White get tackled, Joan Collins acting like a diva in the men’s locker room and Mr. Bean trying to fight like a Chinese soldier. This has kept Snickers in the spotlight for years.
As an extension to the concept, repurposing the “You’re not you when you’re hungry” slogan as incorrect quotes from Muhammad Ali and even Star Wars! Well played, Snickers...well played.

Okay, so what are the Do’s and Don’t when planning your content for humor? It’s important to point out that humor should be used as a complementary asset to the content that is already generating your company leads, not instead of it. This is because your customers still need information about your product/service to guide them through their consideration process, but cramming it all into “something funny” takes away the “funny” and turns it into “something”, wasting your money in the process. So here’s a small guide to influence your decision:


Do:
1. Include influencers and take their personalities into account when planning the creative
2. Stay true to your company’s values and message you want to convey
3. Plan ahead around seasons, occasions, events.

Don’t:
1. Try to cram all technical information about your product into an asset that is meant to entertain
2. Overuse taglines, slogans and similar jokes. Sprinkle them around so they’re not too on the nose.
3. Use distasteful humor. Let’s keep it politically correct and professional.

And that’s it! All other rules can be modified, tested, bent and everything in between. Remember that the planning process should feel exciting and fun. “It takes one to know one” as they say, so unleash your inner comedian and just start.

However, if after reading this article, you find yourself still needing help with the planning of your next campaign with humor in mind, we would be happy to spar with you and come up with something great that will get you noticed.

Holla at us at business@troot.fi

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