Humorous ads are taking over the advertising world for a good reason. Advertising with humor appeals to the general public more than any other type of advertising. What was the funniest ad campaign that you ever saw? I bet you could still recall why it was funny and probably even the advertised brand. Why is this? Why do those humorous car ads from Volkswagen stick to us like glue while the average car ad slides right off our memory? Whether those are clever job ads or humorous print ads, a giggle is inevitable when the ad is funny. What makes it more intriguing is that initial interest in the product is not needed to appreciate the ad's humor. What exactly makes humor so powerful in advertising? The answer lies in the psychology of humor (more on this later!). Humor generally improves mood and releases feel-good chemicals in the brain. This helps our brains relax and lowers defenses, allowing information to be more easily processed. If you're advertising endeavors fail to generate your desired engagement and revenue, you probably need humor ads. We're here to help you change that. In this article, we'll explore the science behind humor and examine how humorous ads play vital roles in consumer behavior. If you want to influence your market with humor and quips, keep reading.
The Science of Humor
Humans are naturally tense. Whether watching a movie, going to work, or scrolling through TikTok. Human biology is founded in the stress chemicals and hormones. That's why we're always seeking reward and avoiding punishment to relieve the tension. So when we come across humor, a release button is pushed. Have you ever noticed laughter resembles the high-pitched whistle of escaping steam in a pressure cooker? The higher the pressure, the more intense the laughter. When we release that tension through humor leaves us with a feeling of lightness and joy.
“A good ol’ belly laugh is as good as a cure.” – Ryan Chute
Let's look at the psychology of humor in everyday living. Imagine being a nervous wreck meeting your better half’s friends for the first time. The first meet-up is the litmus test to determine whether you pass the "friend test," everyone knows that. You're calculating every move and ensuring you don't overstep, offend, or make the atmosphere uncomfortable. You happen to have a few tricks up your sleeve and entertain the group; giggles fill the room. Until someone pulls a deck of cards out and starts doing magic tricks, suddenly the air is filled with laughter, the tension dissipates and you can relax. You slowly (but surely) integrate yourself into the pack — this is the power of humor. Now let's apply that same principle to advertising. When we see humorous ads that make us laugh, they grab our attention and stick in our memories. One more thing they do is create a positive association with the brand. Inc. says that advertising with a humor appeal had a more significant impact and attitude towards the brand. Humor is a powerful tool to enhance brand recall, evaluation and purchase intention. But why is this the case? When we laugh, our brains release dopamine, a feel-good chemical, causing us to associate the ad with positivity and joy. Humor activates the reward center in our brain, called the mesolimbic pathway. This part of our brain is also responsible for motivation, pleasure, and addiction.
Evolution of Laughter
Humor has been a widely studied topic in psychology. Some researchers even suggest that it evolved to bond and communicate with others. The act of laughter itself has changed human evolution. For example, a study in 2016 looked at the level of affiliation between pairs of people based on their laughter. Laughter samples were obtained from teams of college students (some are friends, and some are strangers). Audio snippets of the laughter were played to 24 diverse societies across six continents. Listeners were then asked whether the laughing pair was strangers or friends. The results were remarkable as people correctly guessed the relationship based on their laughter, around six out of 10 times. Acoustic characteristics of laughter can distinguish friends from strangers. Laughter can also be used to determine hierarchical relationships among social groups. In 2014, a group of researchers detected the hierarchical rank through the sound of laughter. They recorded spontaneous laughter from a fraternity and analyzed acoustic features such as pitch and duration. The results revealed that laughter from higher-ranking individuals is more dominant, while pledges have a more submissive tone. Another research on the evolution of laughter states that laughter can be traced back 10 – 16 million years. As suggested by The Conversation, laughter's principal function is to create and deepen social bonds. As our ancestors lived among complex social groups, the quality of their relationships became crucial to their survival. To cater to this need, humans evolved a 'cognitive strategy' to help forge sustainable alliances with others. This cognitive strategy could have been laughter. After all, we laugh far more often in the presence of others compared to when we are alone. Moreover, we laugh more comfortably when fully integrated into a social group. These studies suggest that humor has a vital social aspect and can convey social information about relationships. How does this relate to humorous ads? Humor in advertising can create a sense of affiliation and rapport between the brand and the consumer. Humorous advertisements make us feel a part of a social group— the brand and us. This often results in increased brand recall and positive attitudes toward the advertisement. Science itself points to the effectiveness of humor in advertising. If you don't use neuro puns in your advertisements, then it's high time you do so. Otherwise, you risk letting your ads drown out in the noise of today's advertising landscape. Laughter breaks that ceiling and puts your advertisements at the forefront of your prospects’ minds. Wizard of Ads™ can help you craft humorous ads that will leave a lasting impression on your audience. Book a call with Ryan Chute of Wizard of Ads® today to learn more.
What Makes People Remember Ads?
Do you have ads you can't shake off your mind? It is safe to say that more than one ad comes to mind. No matter how much you try, they're engraved in your entire being. There are many reasons why some people may recall ads more than others. They may be humorous ads, or the advertisers use excellent graphics or a catchy jingle. Whatever it is, we can only draw one conclusion from this remembrance— the ad worked. Some advertisements fall into this category. However, how many of these ads do you recall? Our brains have developed an internal mechanism to block out information that doesn't seem necessary. Some advertisements fall into this category. With that in mind, creating memorable ads is now more critical. The only way to take a person's eyeballs and keep them focused on your ad is by grabbing their attention. To keep them glued to what you say, your ad must be catchy, memorable, and relevant.
Is Humor the Key to a Memorable Ad?
We all want memorable ads, but is humor the key to it? There's more to unique ads than only humor. In actuality, you can produce memorable ads in five different ways:
1. Sprinkle in some humor.
As a residential home service business owner, you should know that your audience doesn't like you. For real, because you're selling an externally triggered grudge purchase. This means people buy because they NEED your solutions, not because they want them.
Humor softens the cushion of your impact and calms the raging storm within your buyers. Plus, who doesn't like a funny ad? People fixate on humorous ads more than they do on serious ones.
2. Create a catchy jingle, slogan, or tagline.
Who doesn't even know the brands with taglines "I'm loving it" or "Just Do It"? Do you also groove to the smooth RnB when you hear "Nationwide is on your side" playing? A catchy slogan from a bakery in the Philippines says, "we don't just bake; we master bake."
These are all well and good, but they don't immediately disrupt the market at will. Catchy lines work better when you pair them with a brand with solid recall or recognition.
3. Get endorsed by a celebrity.
Celebrities have a strong pull on how popular an ad could be. They usually have captured audiences and followers that bring traction to their endorsements. However, the caveat is that the endorsement only works when they're relevant to the celebrity.
Would you hire a beauty icon to endorse a sewer repair service? Exactly.
Education is another way to make your ads stand out and make a mark. It can sound different from Mrs. Norris' 4th-grade science class, but it should share new insights on the solution. The human brain is wired to recall useful information, so anything that piques our curiosity could be useful.
Some of the most controversial ads have one thing in common: they are all unique.
Uniqueness is a quality no longer observed in today's advertising age. One popular brand that still abides by the same level of unique flair ever since is Old Spice. We can never get enough of how bizarre, odd, memorable, and effective their advertising is.
Among the list, humor takes the cake, especially in residential home services. Allow me to explain: First, being humorous does not require a strong brand recall or recognition as with catchy slogans, jingles, or taglines. That means you can make any uninterested audience laugh as long as you have fun ideas up your sleeve. Second, hiring a celebrity endorser is cheaper than publishing humorous ads. Next, educational ads are more challenging than quipping a funny one-liner or creating an entertaining punchline. Finally, all humorous ads are, in one way or another, unique. Why? Because they stick to people's minds more than other forms of advertising. Perhaps the more important question we should all ask is, "are humorous ads linked to your consumer's buying behavior?” We'll answer that question right below.
Humor and Consumer Behaviour
Recall that, as humans, we are always seeking ways to distract us from life's harshest realities. Advertisements can also be distracting as long as they're attention-grabbing and captivating. A humorous appeal in advertising does this and does it magnificently. Let me explain. Humans are naturally inclined to reminisce life's happiest moments— a.k.a. the highlights of our experiences. Bad and mediocre memories get plunged down our memory drain, while the best kinds are kept in our subconscious. That’s why we have a bias or tendency to seek things that feel good. You and I can both agree that laughing at humorous advertisements feels good. I would argue that you wouldn't mind binge-watching those ads that made you elicit a giggle.**When an ad makes us feel good, we also feel good about the brand behind that advertising.**Here's the rub: our buying behavior and decisions are also anchored on the brands that make us feel euphoric. Think about it, would you buy a seemingly superior ad with poor customer service? Or will you choose a relatively weaker brand with customer support that genuinely cares about its audience? We want brands that make us feel good, the same as advertising. Humorous ads give us that feeling, encouraging us to choose their brands. Why? Because all purchase decisions happen in the part of the brain that exclusively feels. This area has no faculty for words or logic.
Humor as a stimulus
Humor is an umbrella term that covers a bunch of ideas. It could mean a psychological state filled with amusement or the act of creating something funny. However, in the context of our discussion, we want to use humor as a stimulus. A weapon to feed people with and expect a positive reaction. Humor doesn't necessarily have to be a joke; it can also be funny imagery or a situation. It could even be anything else as long as it deviates from what we perceive as normal. The key is that it should elicit a positive emotional response from the consumer. The only way it does that is when the ad is relatable and relevant. Take note of the keyword: relevant.
Using a “Slice of Humor”
A 2022 study published in the Journal of Interactive Marketing brushed on the concept of a “slice of humor.” They found that using a slice of humor or humorous quips can nudge observers to support a certain brand. But there's a caveat: **the humor only works effectively when used in the appropriate context.**What does this tell us?In advertising, incorporating humor can positively impact consumer attitudes toward the brand and the memory of the ad. However, it is essential to note that not all humorous ads are successful. **Your humor must never overshadow the message of your advertisement.**While humor's influence on advertising is extensive, it could go overboard and water down your brand. The key is to strike the perfect balance. Be funny but maintain relevance to the solution for them to have a practical impact on consumers. You can do this by appropriating the humor with the solution being advertised. The memory of the humor must lead to brand recall and recognition; otherwise, why are you even advertising? Look at Morris-Jenkins' most popular commercial series: Bobby and Mr. Jenkins. The ad worked wonders because the humor seamlessly infused with what they were advertising. Plus, they balanced Bobby's Forrest Gump-esque idiot-savant disposition with a serious-yet-wise old sage, Mr. Jenkins. That's how you make humorous ads that work, and undoubtedly the duo is one reason for the brand's overpowering popularity.
Humor Energizes People in the Workplace
The power of humor doesn't only impact your audience, but even your marketing team that works on your advertising. A study in 2014 found the energizing effect of humor in the workplace. The authors, Cheng and Wang, suggested that humorous ads energize employees' behavior, consequently impacting their performance. People who watched funny videos worked twice as long on tiring tasks than those who didn’t. What does this tell us? When your creative marketing department comes together for a humorous ad campaign, you can expect more engagement. They'll be more motivated and invested in the job, resulting in more humorous ideas and better advertisement. Think of humorous ads as the stone that hits two birds in one throw. The targeted audience benefits from the ads, and your business also reap those advantages.
How Do You Want Your Ads Remembered?
The question remains now: “how do you want your ads remembered?” Are you satisfied with boring ads that may be easily forgotten? Or do you want your humorous ads that stick to the minds of your target audience and get them to buy? It all depends on you. However, let me leave this final warning: humorous ads may only sometimes be successful. It takes careful planning, analysis, and execution to work in your favor. But when done right, humorous advertising can leave a lasting impact on consumers and bring in those coveted profits. Wizard of Ads™ can give you those funny ads that convert. Book a call with Ryan Chute of Wizard of Ads® today, and let's get to it.