In the documentary, Art & Copy, creative advertising executives talk about how vilified and dirty advertising is perceived by the average consumer. Some even re-word their job description to appear unconnected to the industry. But why? Most brand advertising and marketing — say 90 percent of it — is annoying white noise in the backgrounds of our lives. “As advertising blather becomes the nation’s normal idiom, language becomes printed noise,” says George Will, quoted in Stephen Donadio. However, “top shelf” brand advertising campaigns stand out from the clutter, connecting with a message while making us laugh, think and even cry. Over the years, established brands such as Coca-Cola, Nike and Apple have raised their profile through their unique ability to make an emotional connection with us.
Quite simply, if you want to connect brand with consumers, make them laugh or make them cry. The former is a common brand marketing and advertising goal, but can be elusive. Superbowl commercials are famous for injecting humor to get a chuckle. (Check out our expert marketing analysis of Kia’s puppet advertising campaign, GoDaddy’s sex-sells brand strategy, Hyundai’s customer service value proposition, and Cars.com’s emotional marketing strategy.) To bring the joy of laughter and connect with customers, here are some pointers to get your started:
Ever watch a movie that you find hilarious and your spouse or friend shoots you an odd look that says, “Really, you think that is funny?” Us humans are fickle beings with distinct sensibilities when it comes to humor. Budweiser and Volkswagen brand advertising campaigns are customized to their target audiences. Budweiser’s humor is clearly targeted at a base-level humor that skews young male. For Budweiser fans, humor is instantaneous — starkly contrasted by Volkswagen, which seeks to connect with a more intellectual, sophisticated consumers. As an advertiser, develop and test messages against your demographic marker, recognizing that your non-target might not laugh, and that’s ok.
After you’ve identified your target audience position, determine what makes them laugh. What comedian do they love? Do they laugh at a more sophisticated humor, such as the Daily Show (Volkswagen), or the base-level humor of Larry the Cable Guy (Budweiser)? Typically, Daily Show humor is witty and pointed yet requires brain power to understand whereas Larry the Cable Guy plays on stereo-types — requiring little creative or intellectual stretch.
Here are marketing strategies for injecting comedy into brand messages:
1) Use real-life problems and issues. Re-enacting a problem with a comedic twist helps viewers relate to your commercial.
2) Be inquisitive and figure out why people do the things they do. You might be surprised what motivates them.
3) Dramatize characters that are found in the viewers real lives. Much like using real-life problems, viewers can relate to realistic characters.
4) Be unexpected. Jokes are not as funny if the punchline is expected.
5) Don’t take yourself too seriously.
When you have a firm understanding of what hits your audience’s funny bone, it’s time to get creative. Loosen up. Watch some of your favorite comedies, play charades or board games with team members to get in the mood. Think about your product, marketing landscape, and company through the lens of your target audience’s favorite comedian. If Larry the Cable Guy were to crack a joke about your product or service, what would it be? But remember, though a joke might be funny to you, consider whether it is offensive. Remember, your audience will likely not be the only ones viewing it.
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