Using Humor in Your Marketing

Have you noticed how commercials seem to be getting more and more offbeat? Nearly every other ad that comes across our television screens makes an attempt to get a chuckle out of you. Some succeed and can even make you laugh out loud while others just leave you scratching your head wondering, “Huh?”

So why the sudden interest in tickling your funny bone? Well, as you hear over and over, in order for your brand to succeed, you need to connect with the public on an emotional level. That means that advertisements need to somehow appeal to your feelings—and what better way than to make you laugh? If a company’s ad can get a genuine laugh out of you, then they have succeeded in pulling out an emotional response. Suddenly their company isn’t just another company. Now they’re that company with the hilarious ads.

When Humor Fails

Now that sounds great and all, but what about those companies that take a stab at humor only to find their jokes falling flat like an amateur comedian at standup comedy night? Well, obviously this failed attempt will leave your reputation suffering. That said, we need to look at how people can fail when using humor in marketing:

  • It feels forced—Humor is often unintentional. Setting out from the get-go saying “this will be hilarious” often means it really isn’t. And if there is even a small doubt that what you’re trying to do is funny, drop it. When the humor seems forced, you can count on it failing.
  • The humor isn’t consistent with your message—What is your core message? What does the public know of you? What do they expect from you? If humor isn’t consistent with this message, don’t risk it.
  • It inadvertently offends—There’s an extremely thin line between edgy and offensive. That said, be careful that your humor doesn’t isolate a sector of your market. Make sure whatever gag you’re pulling can’t be misconstrued as somehow racist, sexist, etc.

Is Humor Right for You?

It depends on a number of factors. Just make sure you avoid the pitfalls mentioned above!

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download your free copy of the Beginner’s Guide to Writing Powerful Press Releases here:

Just remember that humor isn’t the message. Humor is a way to get people to pay attention to your real message. If all they remember is the funny ad, but not the company or the call to action, you’ve still failed, even if it’s funny.


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