How and When To Use Humor In Marketing

Written By Alla Levin
January 05, 2020
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Marketing Humor: How and When To Use Humor In Marketing

Marketing and advertising can be great places to use humor but also challenging. An example of humor done well in marketing and advertising are the recent car insurance commercials that have popped up over the past few years.

Millennials are the primary demographic car insurance companies are targeting, and they’ve realized that low-key humor can work well.

Think, for example, how well the Mayhem commercials have done for Allstate. Car insurance is incredibly boring, so humor gives these companies something unique that stands out to their audience.

The key to using humor is not just to do it effectively but to know when to do it and the following are general things to keep in mind.

The Pros of Using Humor In Marketing

One of the biggest pros of using humor in marketing is the fact that it sets you apart, which can be particularly valuable if you’re in a saturated industry.

When someone sees something humorous, it triggers an emotional response, and that’s the biggest goal of marketing and advertising.

That emotional connection is what’s going to lead your audience to make a buying decision.

Humor makes people feel good, so they’ll associate those good feelings with your brand and that can promote loyalty.

If you’re really lucky, your humorous campaign may even go viral.

A big part of using humor is knowing the possible risks, though, because there are some.

For example, anything that could come off as offensive could destroy your brand. Even if you think it’s all in good fun, is everyone else going to agree?

Your timing needs to be right as well. If you’re having an issue such as a PR crisis, humor may not be the best remedy.

Know Your Demographictargeted to your specific demographic.

When it comes to using humor in your advertising and marketing, the most important thing to remember is that it needs to be targeted to your specific demographic.

What’s humorous to the one targeted audience may not be to another. It could be that if you don’t know your audience and you try to use humor, they won’t get it or it’s more likely to come across as offensive.

Knowing your audience done to the smallest details isn’t just valuable for humorous content. It’s valuable for the creation of all of your marketing and advertising content.

Keep Your Humor In Line with Your Brand

Yes, if you’re using humor in your marketing, you can be perhaps a bit edgy or unique, but you still need to keep it all at least somewhat in-line with your brand’s identity. If you stray too far from your brand, it could confuse your audience.

In addition to keeping humor in-line with your brand, you also want it to stay in-line with your message. If you go too far off your message, it’s going to muddy the waters of your marketing.

Outsource Your Humor Contentcraft humorous content

It’s extremely difficult to craft humorous content, regardless of your demographic. You might want to bring in an outsider who specializes in this area.

Consider working for example, with a content writer who has a lot of experience with humor and particularly humor geared toward your targeted audience.

They might, at a minimum be able to help you get started, and what’s great about bringing someone from the outside in is that they’re going to be able to give you a more objective perspective about what could truly be funny.

Look For Inspiration

Before you create any content, look around, and do your research. Look for brands that are similar to your own, if nothing else in who they target.

Get a feel for how they approach to humor and what the audience’s perception seems to be. Of course, you’re not going to copy them but it can start pointing you in the right general direction.

Stay Simple


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The funniest things are often very simple and straightforward. You don’t want to try and make humorous content overly long or complex.

If you find a formula that works as far as humor, you can stick with it. This again goes back to the Mayhem commercials.

The format of each of those is similar to one another, and it’s a straightforward form of humor, but it works again and again.

Finally, there is a science behind the appeal of humor in marketing. The science is based once again on the fact that humor makes us feel something.

When we laugh, it can lower our stress and reduce anxiety, so keep all of these things in mind as you cultivate campaigns.

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