What are you laughing at?


Well, it’s January… so none of us are having that much of a giggle. This month isn’t always the biggest laugh, let’s face it. But at least Blue Monday (reportedly the most depressing day of the year) is out of the way now.

However, these dark, cold nights DO put a grin on the faces of some folks – namely advertisers. With tv, online and radio audiences held captive by their warm and cosy sofas, brands have a bigger canvas than usual upon which to emblazon their message and persuade consumers what to do, see, drive, eat, wear and wash their hair with.

More often than not, advertisers use humour to sell their products and services; knowing that raising a smile makes us feel good, brightens our day and – the bullseye – encourages people to share the content with their friends (it’s not just misery that loves company).

It’s a precarious tightrope to balance though, humour. So subjective, so risky. One person’s corker can be another person’s cringe. So, what’s the trick? As a marketing agency in Hampshire, we’re keen to explore this further…

The magic formula

In the article ‘6 Ways Brands Can Bring the Funny’, digital content expert Dan Brotzel tries to unpick the key elements of the comedic toolkit:
“Browsing the different theories of humour, several elements come up again and again:

  • Identification: As in ‘That is so true!
  • Surprise / incongruity: As in ‘Why did the monkey fall out of the tree? Because it was dead’
  • Transgression: A way of saying the unsayable, as in dirty jokes, jokes about cancer, most of Jimmy Carr and all of Frankie Boyle
  • Relief: As when my wife laughs uncontrollably any time I bang my head (and the more it hurts, the funnier she finds it).”

Brotzel goes on to analyse the use of techniques such as social observation, parody, dark comedy and banter as used with deft skill by advertising giants such as McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Spotify and Tesco.


Check out the full article here: 6 Ways Brands Can Bring the Funny

A dangerous art

We remember reading Jack Simpson’s thoughts on ‘The Dangerous Art of Using Humour in Marketing’ for the Econsultancy blog, where he looked at humour in advertising campaigns by the likes of Old Spice and Paddy Power:

“Humour is subjective. Some of the above examples [I’ve described] I wouldn’t exactly call comedy gold, but I included them because they received a profoundly positive response from their intended audience. On that basis, here are the things I think are key to being funny in marketing:

  • Truly understand your target audience and what would be funny to them
  • Be tasteful. Again, your audience will dictate what qualifies as ‘tasteful’
  • Keep your overall image in mind. Don’t just be funny for the sake of it if it doesn’t make sense within the context of your brand
  • On that note: be consistent. If you’re going to be a ‘funny’ brand then that tone needs to be present across all channels
  • If you do something that people find funny, do it again. But keep it fresh, or you’ll be like that annoying friend who always tells the same jokes and everyone has to keep fake laughing so as not to hurt his feelings
  • Bear in mind that trying to be funny and failing is always worse than not trying to be funny at all.


You can read the full article here: The dangerous art of using humour in marketing | Econsultancy

For every advertising campaign that’s made you split your sides open laughing, there’s one that’s made you yawn, roll your eyes or switch the channel because you couldn’t actually tell what the advert was for. Get the balance of humour and information right with help from Brevity Marketing, the Hampshire marketing agency. Call us today on 01256 536 000 to have a chat about how we can make your customers smile, or email