I was listening to a recent Marketing Smarts podcast from marketingprofs.com featuring Baratunde Thurston, “a politically active, technology-loving comedian from the future. He co-founded the black political blog Jack and Jill Politics and served as Director of Digital for The Onion. His first book, How To Be Black, is a New York Times best-seller.” More importantly, he’s a man who tweets hard, brunches harder, and loves whiskey. Baratunde talked about the difficulties of managing a satirical newspaper across multiple channels while juggling expectations of advertisers and fans alike. And how to do it in such a way that’s creative, interesting, engaging and most importantly- fun for all parties. In his new venture CultivatedWit.com he wants to use the power of comedy to “cut through the noise” [of constant marketing]. “Cultivated Wit is based on three ideas. First, comedy is an essential language for explaining an increasingly complex world. Second, digital platforms offer new, exciting ways to tell stories and connect with people. Third, whiskey is delicious.
According to a 1993 Journal of Marketing study that examined multinational effects of humor on advertising Baratunde is right. The major conclusion was that ‘humor is more likely to enhance recall, evaluation, and purchase intention when the humorous message coincides with ad objectives, is well-integrated with those objectives, and is viewed as appropriate for the product category. Under such circumstances, humorous advertising is more likely to secure audience attention, increase memorability, overcome sales resistance, and enhance message persuasiveness.’
But with great power comes great responsibility and in the world of advertising, comedy (or the attempt there of) can leave you either at the top of the heap or the bottom of the barrel. Here are some of the best and the worst examples of humor in advertising.
Know your audience! The K-Swiss, Kenny Powers MFCEO commercials are aimed specifically at the fowl mouthed Male 18-34 market… almost exclusively. Warning – Explicit Language, Viewer discretion is advised.
Groupon’s latest deal: Spend millions on a thirty-second commercial and, in return, get billions of people angry at you. Timothy Hutton stars in this spot that trivializes the plight of the Tibetan people.
In classic Will Ferrell style, here’s his ode to Old Milwaukee.
This commercial for a German Language School uses humor to drive home a point- you should understand the lyrics your listening to. Another Warning- More Explicit Language.
With Adriana Lima, a lumberjack slicing a sandwich, a cowboy riding a rhino not to mention Chuck Liddell and ‘80s hair legends Motley Crue, this may be my favorite commercial of all time.
All kidding aside, comedy is serious business and best left to the professionals.