You don’t think marketing materials can be funny? Well let’s take a trip down memory lane all the way to the early 2010s. You’re half paying attention to a YouTube video. Suddenly, you hear someone say, “I shipped my pants!” Got your attention, right?
That came from a K-mart commercial that first aired online. It featured customers saying things like “I shipped my drawers!” or “I shipped my bed!” and the ad received a lot of attention — because what they’re saying sounds an awful lot like a word that the Federal Communications Convention might fine on network TV.
Why did it get so much attention? K-mart used humor. Some might argue it was a little bit on the risky side, but it was still funny. It’s the same attention-grabbing tactic that draws people in to watch the Super Bowl each year for the hilarious commercials. Research suggests 43% of people who watch only do so for those commercials.
Dry content isn’t memorable but humorous content is. Use funny marketing to connect with your audience so that they’ll remember your brand and be more likely to engage with your messages and products.
Why you need humor in your marketing
At the recent Brandweek Europe event, one of the five key marketing lessons for the year we were given was, “if you can’t make people feel something, you’re dead.” You need to make consumers make something if you want to achieve any success in marketing. And funny marketing campaigns are the way to do it.
Humor makes your brand more memorable, but that’s not the only reason to use it. It also humanizes your company, makes you more relatable to your audience, and delivers the brand authenticity that today’s consumers want to see.
In a crowded marketplace, humor helps you stand out. The use of funny marketing is actually decreasing, according to recent research, even though, “emotional connection — particularly humor — is still the strongest factor influencing marketing effectiveness.”
Despite how effective funny marketing is, it’s uptake is surprisingly low. So if your competition isn’t using hilarious messaging, that’s an advantage you should leverage.
How to 🎵 make ‘em laugh, make ‘em laugh 🎵
If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, we can’t all deliver an amazing stand-up routine like George Carlin or Robin Williams, here’s the good news: you don’t have to be over-the-top hilarious all the time with your funny marketing strategy.
Just add in some key phrases, create a funny video, or sprinkle in a couple of witty images here and there. If your marketing is currently drier than the Sahara Desert and could use a pick me up, try these methods to infuse a little more personality into the ways you reach and connect with your target audience.
Use puns and wordplay
Ever watched SpongeBob SquarePants as an adult and laughed at a pun you didn’t understand when you were a kid? Sure, puns are often “dad jokes,” but even if it’s an eye-roll-worthy comment, you still remember it.
Puns and wordplay can be an excellent way to make your marketing more amusing. Try to come up with creative puns that relate to your product or services, like an underwear brand saying, “We’ll keep it brief.
Add humorous visuals
We all share funny content with our friends. If you’re using humorous visuals on your account, there’s a chance your audience will interact with it more and even share it with their social circle. Create funny memes, GIFs, and other visuals that will make your audience laugh and engage with your content.
European budget airline Ryanair does this while poking fun at common customer pain points. Their TikTok is full of funny short videos that often leverage trending sounds and memes.
Sprinkle in a bit of dry humor
Play some Cards Against Humanity and you’ll likely laugh at the dry (often dark) statements that come up — now imagine using that kind of humor in your marketing. Channel your inner April from Parks and Recreation and make a post that relies on deadpan and dry humor.
If you need some ideas, check out fast food restaurant Wendy’s Twitter profile. Their tweets are often retweeted or quoted and don’t shy away from roasting the competition or providing hilarious takes on current events.
We all know the song, “It’s like raaaaain on your wedding day.” When done right, irony can be a great tool for making your marketing campaigns funny. There’s three types you can use: situational, dramatic, and verbal.
- Situational: When something happens, but you’re expecting the opposite. Ever picked up a glass of Sprite only to find out it’s water? Or worse, a cookie that you thought was chocolate chip but ended up being raisins?
- Dramatic: This happens when your audience knows something, but someone in your advertisement doesn’t
- Verbal: Verbal irony occurs when a speaker says one thing, but means something else, like sarcasm, hyperbole, or understatement
Pepsi and Coca-Cola have been at odds for years and they both poke fun at the rivalry in their marketing. A great example of this dynamic that leverages irony is Pepsi’s iconic Halloween ad. They put a Coca-Cola cape on a Pepsi can with the caption “We wish you a scary Halloween.”
Stumped on how to use satire? Think of basically every Saturday Night Live skit you’ve ever watched, they pick an aspect of society ripe for parody and focus on it. For your funny marketing strategy, try to create an exaggerated version of something that’s already familiar to your audience. Maybe even pick a customer pain point and make fun of it
For example, maybe products from a furniture store are notoriously hard to put together. They might create an ad that exaggerates the customer’s exasperation to poke fun at themselves.
Get customers to join in on the fun
Ask for user-generated content (UGC) from your customers. If you’re looking for pain points to inspire you or funny ways people have used your products, this is the way to do it. Find shoppers who’ve tagged your brand directly or who used hashtags that go along with your products. Solicit submissions on social media and highlight any that make you chuckle.
And reward customers for sharing their UGC with you, whether it’s with a discount or free merchandise.
5 brands with knee-slapping humor
If you’re ready to start using funny marketing but aren’t sure where to begin, take some inspiration from well-known brands that’ve already done it well. We’ve picked five of the funniest ones that are sure to tickle your funny bone.
Cows painting billboards? That’s incredibly moo-ving. Chick-fil-A uses this udder-ly silly but brilliant campaign to advertise its chicken sandwiches, and it’s worked for them for years. By now, almost everyone in the United States recognizes the Chick-fil-A cows.
The chain has used these cows since way back in 1995, which shows they have some incredible staying power.
2. Farmers Insurance
We can probably all sing the jingle, “We Are Farmers, bum-bum-bum-bum-bum!” Farmers Insurance uses actor J.K. Simmons as their spokesperson, and he can deliver dry humor with the best of them as he pokes fun at situations that need an insurance claim, from homes getting destroyed to new cars losing value the moment they drive off the lot.
3. Dude Wipes
If you love toilet humor, then Dude Wipes’ funny marketing tactics will have you rolling. Their website banner text reads, “Don’t trust toilet paper after that lunchtime burrito,” and anyone who’s had a questionable burrito will understand all too well what that means.
Their Twitter feed is also a gold mine of laughs, like the above example.
We’ve all experienced that feeling of hunger plus anger combo, otherwise known as “hanger.” Snickers knows that and they capitalize on it with their commercials showing people in various levels of hanger until they’re handed a Snickers bar. Each commercial ends with the tagline, “You’re not you when you’re hungry.”
This 2010 Super Bowl commercial brought in Betty White for even more laughs.
5. Dollar Shave Club
From social media to content marketing, Dollar Shave Club inserts humor everywhere it can. They address frustrations that shaving can help with, like how people get annoyed by body hair.
The site also addresses other bathroom issues with blog posts like, “Just How Gross Did Everyone Smell Before We Got Indoor Plumbing?”
They also use wordplay on social media platforms with hilarious original content and memes.
Make your brand stand out with funny marketing
Ready to step up your marketing game? Humor isn’t the only way you can stand out from the crowd. At Brandweek Europe, funny marketing was only one of the five key lessons you can apply to your marketing efforts.
To find out how you can leverage this information for successful marketing campaigns in 2023 and beyond, you need to check out the other four marketing lessons.