Why funny advertising campaigns make you stand out (and why some business leaders avoid them)

June 22, 2022 | 5 minute read
Michael McNichols
Senior Content Manager
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Learn the importance of humor and happiness in your advertising.

  • Find out the benefits of making your audience smile and laugh
  • Get the details on why many business leaders fear using humor in their ads
  • See what solutions might help, and learn from examples of successful ads

Make no mistake. Your digital ads are intrusive. They show up when someone’s web browsing and might interrupt whatever they’re reading or doing.

Of course, people have come to expect digital ads. They might ignore them or not even notice them.

Audiences get around 10,000 ads a day after all.

How then do you make sure you get your audience’s attention and ensure it’s worth their while?

Try something you might not have thought of before: humor.

Benefits of funny advertising

What are the benefits of humor in digital advertising?

  • It humanizes your brand
  • It catches someone’s eye
  • It delights your audience

With humor, an ad can go from simply intrusive to an entertaining use of someone’s time. If they smile and laugh, you’ve won them over.

Embrace funny advertising

They click through on your ad. Share or talk about it on social media or to their work colleagues, friends, and family.

So, by making someone chuckle or smile, you made your ad more memorable. You made it resonate.

Humor bonds people, even advertisers and their audiences. It shows you’re not just making a hard sell. You understand your audience and their needs. If you don’t, then your humor will fall flat.

Your advertising audiences are looking for humor, happiness, and distraction

The past few years have thrown a lot at people. It’s been one thing after another.

According to a new research study by Oracle, 45% of people haven’t felt happiness in two years! But that’s not all.

  • 88% of people are looking for new experiences to make them smile and laugh
  • 78% believe brands can do more to deliver happiness for their customers
  • 91% prefer brands that are funny, especially Generation Z (94%) and Millennials (again 94%).

And if your brand doesn’t deliver on laughs and smiles?

  • 48% of people don’t think they have a relationship with a brand unless it makes them smile or laugh
  • 41% would walk away from a brand that didn’t make them smile or laugh regularly

But what do the numbers say about brands that do successfully use humor?

  • 80% of people are more likely to do business with that brand again
  • 80% will recommend that brand to friends and family
  • 72% will choose that brand over a competitor
  • 63% will spend more with that brand

Makes you want to develop your wit and show more personality in your ads, doesn’t it?

Find out more about how humor enhances ads, customer experiences, and drives repeat business with the Happiness Report.

Why many digital advertisers avoid humor

The research study also found that 90% of people are more likely to remember ads if they’re funny.

Despite this, business leaders say that only 20% of their offline ads (i.e., billboards, TV) use humor, and only 18% of their online ads do.

89% of business leaders see opportunities in using humor to enhance customer experiences. However, 95% of business leaders fear using humor in customer interactions (such as digital advertising).

Why is this?

Years ago, when I was a senior in high school, I took a creative writing class. My teacher mentioned that comedy was far harder than tragedy.

Generally speaking, everyone agrees on what’s tragic, sad, and depressing.

What’s funny, though? That’s far more subjective.

Humor greatly depends on context and timing. Everybody is different, and we live in sensitive times. What might crack one person up will offend another.

The wrong joke at the wrong time in an ad might set someone off. It can throw a monkey wrench into how brand safe and suitable your ads are. Furthermore, it can negatively impact your brand’s reputation.

Your audiences are enormous, though. They contain so many different people with different backgrounds and interests.

How can your humor appeal to all of them?

Should you just give up and try to be boring?

Let’s go back to the study since business leaders do see a ray of hope.

Tools to help deliver humor in your advertising campaigns

85% of business leaders say they lack the data insights or tools to successfully deliver humor.  What would make them more confident in trying?

  • 55% say better customer visibility
  • 32% would want advanced technologies, such as AI

Customer data and tools make all the difference then. If you know what makes your customers tick, you know what will make them laugh.

You might have mountains of customer data to seep through!

That’s where the right tools come in.

  • AI analyzes that data and finds patterns. The type of copy people like, the ad campaigns they responded to, the offers that got them to click through, it all tells a story. With AI, you understand that story, its sequel, and how you should be communicating with audiences, such as what type of humor to use.
  • A customer data platform (CDP) helps you store, manage, and organize your customer data to put it to good use. You can build complete customer profiles to anticipate customer needs with your ads, such as when someone might need a laugh.
  • Contextual intelligence matches the right ad content to the right audience segments, so you can protect your brand and make sure you’re making the most of your budget and campaign. This can prove extremely useful when deciding what humor works for which audience segments
  • Measurement tools show how your ads perform across all media. So, if you’re not as funny as you think, the numbers will indicate if you’re turning people off.

See how to create a single source of truth with your customer data using a customer data platform (CDP) with this infographic.

Successful examples of humor in advertising

The Cannes Lions International Festivity of Creativity is the largest gathering in the creative advertising community. It celebrates the best and most inspiring ads from across the globe.

Take a look at some past award winners who embraced humor:

  • John West Red Salmon has a fisherman karate-fighting with a bear
  • Orange has executives criticizing Snoop Dogg’s rap lyrics
  • A shirtless man on a horse with a dramatic voice tells you why you should buy Old Spice

These examples show that humor works best when you’re genuinely trying to make someone happy.

Michael McNichols

Senior Content Manager

Michael McNichols is a Senior Content Manager for Oracle Digital Marketing. He has over ten years of experience in professional writing and has been widely published.

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