On Thursday February 21st, Ensemble Co
held the 7th event in their speaker series, titled: The Future of Funny. The session
included panel discussions with bankers, improv actors, advertisers and media
gurus. While everyone had a different take on the topic of being funny, there
were a few things everyone could agree on. Humour is here. Humour is huge. Humour
offers a lot of rich opportunities for brands.
how humour is being used
In the era of memes, humour is its own type of currency.
With the speed of social sharing, ‘funny
done right’ (or wrong!) can lead to a brand going viral in days (or hours!). Resultantly,
companies are harnessing the power of
comedy to reach their consumers.
This can be done through the tone and delivery of social
media posts, the content of advertising campaigns, or even something as simple
as the classic sandwich board. This last example of ‘funny done right’ can be seen outside many coffee shops, where
their ingenious puns, illustrations or relevant quotes to lure people inside –
and become social media sensations.
At a time where consumers demand more personality and
engagement from companies, humour can also be a great lever for increasing
affection and affinity.
why brands should use humour
The creativity, novelty and human connection involved in
well-delivered humorous communication makes comedic messaging memorable,
relatable and attention-grabbing. It also disrupts the sea of sameness that
often exists in advertising. For example, the Hotels.com comedic mascot
‘Captain Obvious’ has turned the online booking industry from a function and
value-driven entity to one with more emotional connection, through its use of
Not only do consumers notice and remember funny content,
they are also likely to share it. With so many platforms available, this type
of content can take on a life of its own and generate notable reach and
impressions through organic sharing.
Using comedy can also shine a new light on your brand and appeal to a new consumer target. The Royal Bank of Canada, a classic and traditional institution, has been experimenting with humour to make its brand more relatable. This is a particularly note-worthy endeavor in the industry of traditional banking. Its recent advertisement campaigns are directed towards a younger, less-savvy yet eager to learn consumer segment. And humour has proved an excellent way to reach and grow its profile with these new consumers.
considerations for using humour
Despite its many benefits and uses, comedy can be
controversial, depending on the topic, execution and implied
Brands must acknowledge and respect the line between
resonant vs. distasteful. It’s a good rule of thumb to be aware of who (if
anyone) is being the ‘butt’ of the joke. Comedy should also be respectful of
race, gender, religion, age, ability, and socio-economic status. Humorous
messaging and content should also be on-brand and align with the company’s
overall mission and purpose – otherwise, this strategy can fall flat and fail
through lack of relevancy.
Even if all the above is addressed, it’s important to
remember that some audiences just won’t get it. Comedy is nuanced and may
manifest itself differently based on different audience types – particularly in
terms of demographics. Consequently, it’s imperative to test comedic concepts
and advertising with its target audience – and acknowledge that some people outside
of your target won’t get it/enjoy). Some testing with non-target audiences may
also be useful to ensure that the ad or messaging itself doesn’t alienate key
consumer groups – even if the comedy doesn’t resonate.
One last thing to consider for humour is the channel it’s
delivered through. This will change based on the purpose of the
campaign/messaging. Digital and online channels are useful for reaching niche
targets and have a lower likelihood of alienating existing consumers or other
target groups. More traditional routes like TV and Out Of Home should be
leveraged if the purpose of the campaign is to reinvent the brand’s image and
Humour isn’t going anywhere, and there are several reasons
brands should consider using it:
- Reach new audiences
- Communicate new brand positioning
- Drive affinity and engagement
- Increase personability
For brands who are experimenting with humour, there are a
few best practices:
- Ensure messaging is respectful of others
- Create content that is still on-brand and relevant
- Thoroughly test before launching
- Acknowledge that it may not resonate with everyone
By Amye Parker, Senior Research Manager at Northstar Toronto
if you would like further information, please get in touch via:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 647.496.7863