Funny works. Getting a laugh establishes a connection between you and your customer, and it can mean the difference between making your company stand out and being forgotten. When you deliver a marketing message that keeps your audience guessing (and giggling), you’re likely to draw attention to your brand, boost traffic to your website, and become harder to forget. Use the wrong punch line, and the reaction may not be a laughing matter. For every brand success story, there are more than enough examples of brands’ attempts at humor going terribly wrong.
It’s tempting to seize on a hot topic or go for something to create a lot of buzz. But take a moment and ask yourself, “Is this joke on brand?” A moment’s pause would have helped DiGiorno avoid disaster. Stay true to who you are and with what makes you laugh. Most of the time, a joke isn’t built out of thin air, but rather it’s simply a twist. For example, check out this Apple ad:
The humor comes from the unexpected: There is the white background typical of other Apple ads, but instead of carefully crafted music, there is a silly a cappella rendition of the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The joke is enough to get viewers’ attention and keep it focused on the ad’s primary message: the size and features of the new phones. Sometimes all it takes is a twist on your traditional marketing.
As fun as it is to amuse people, be sure everything (jokes included), supports the brand message you want to convey to your customers. You want your audience to retain your message once the joke passes. In the example below, Delta transforms a routine pre-flight speech that most passengers ignore, into an engaging course in safety.
If someone takes offense, don’t pass up the opportunity to address individual issues directly over review sites or social. An empathetic response can say a lot about how much your brand cares about its customers.
Have you tried humor in your marketing? We’d love hear your success stories in the comments!