There’s a reason everyone gets psyched for Super Bowl ads: they’re entertaining and often hilarious. When you get a good laugh out of an ad, it has value. It becomes memorable and shareable. Think of your favorite ad. Did it make you chuckle? Do you remember what it was for? If the answer was yes to the first question, it’s most likely the same for the second question.
Humor is a powerful tool for marketing your brand, especially on social media. Millennial and Gen Z audiences love humor. If you want to stick in their heads, you need to speak their language. Tickling their funny bone is one of the most effective ways to do that.
As a Millennial, I not only remember humorous ads, but I am also more likely to become loyal to a brand that makes me laugh. Recently, for example, I’ve become a member of the Dollar Shave Club. The brand uses blunt, unapologetic humor in its Facebook ads to connect with people. In one video ad campaign, the brand runs with the tagline “Our Blades Are F***ing Great.” The straightforwardness made me chuckle, and the more I saw the same type of humor span across all of DSC’s ads, the closer I became a regular subscriber. And yes, I have been a loyal subscriber going on three months now, with no regrets.
When I feel like a brand gets me, I feel drawn to it, and I allow it to stay in my memory. You may also be familiar with the type of humor commonly used by insurance provider GEICO. The company uses humor across all of its video and TV ads, establishing a predictable-but-fun tone for its main message. You can almost always tell when a commercial is for GEICO, and you definitely store it somewhere in your memory. Take this commercial, “Longest Goal Celebration Ever,” as an example:
No matter how many times I watch it, I always chuckle.
But while humor may work for some brands like GEICO and DSC, it doesn’t work for everyone. How do you know if it’ll work for you? Here are some factors to consider when deciding if a humorous campaign is the way to go.
When to Use Humor
It fits your product or brand message. If using humor fits the style and tone you want customers to associate with your product or brand, by all means, laugh it up!
You want to be more relatable. Humor is a great way to connect with your audience because it helps them perceive you as more human.
Your target audience is Millennials or Gen Zs. Younger demographics have a higher appreciation for humor in social media ads, especially if you want to use humor that may otherwise be construed as offensive by older audiences.
You want to have a consistently humorous tone for your brand. Humor doesn’t work as well if you only use it in one ad. You don’t necessarily have to be funny all the time, but if you want to make people laugh, you should be willing to do so consistently.
When Not to Use Humor
It doesn’t fit your brand or it is inappropriate for your product. For example, it may be inappropriate to use humor when marketing an antidepressant.
You have an older target audience. However, depending on the type of humor you use or what you know about your audience’s interests, this may not always be the case.
You don’t have the right copywriting team for the job. Using humor in marketing messages is a special craft. If you don’t have skilled humor copywriters, you either need a new copywriting team or a different strategy.
The type of humor you’re considering is outright offensive. If you’re not sure, test the type of humorous messages you’re considering with a marketing team or test with a group to get feedback.
Unique and Memorable
If your goal is to be unique and memorable, running humorous campaigns can help you accomplish that goal. It also helps differentiate your brand from your competitors, giving you a distinctive voice. The best way to really know if humor will work for you is to know your audience really well. Do they, like myself, appreciate a lighter, less-serious approach to the world? In Facebook advertising, for instance, you can learn a lot about your audience based on their interests, hobbies, and activities. You can do the same when getting to know your Snapchat audience, looking at their lifestyle, where they shop, and places they like to go.
Humor is also effective when you’re trying to acquire and keep subscribers. With a subscription-based brand, you want your audience to feel comfortable with the brand. One of the best ways to charm your way into their comfort zone is to make them laugh. Getting a chuckle or even just a smile can make all the difference.
Now excuse me while I watch the soccer player slide across the field one more time.