Everyone likes a funny advertisement. Whether it’s a catchy jingle on the radio, a silly picture on a billboard, or a laugh-out-loud commercial during the Super Bowl, funny almost always seems to win.
It is no wonder then that many marketers and advertisers are turning to humor to spice up their products and services during the recession. McDonald’s dropped their cheerful “We Love to See You Smile” jingle for the now-infamous “Filet-O-Fish” commercial, which became an immediate internet sensation on YouTube and hilarious, yet frustrating, jingle that no one can seem to get out of their heads.
Did this humorous ad bring McDonald’s more business than before? It’s doubtful. McDonald’s is an international company who is well-established among the masses. Since the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish© sandwich has never been their biggest seller, we also doubt that millions of people ran off to McDonald’s to give it a try upon seeing the funny (yet slightly disturbing) ad.
So why go funny?
For one thing, everyone can use a laugh. As previously mentioned, McDonald’s is an established company, who is probably affected by the recession, but it is doubtful that they were previously suffering from lack of decent advertising. So why not give the people a laugh? It is good for mental health, for physical health, for productivity, and is desperately needed in this depressed economy.
Secondly, catchy humor can be incredibly useful for those companies who are not so well established. The Red House furniture store in North Carolina went from a slow, local business, to an internationally-recognized brand who can barely keep up with the ringing phones. Their latest commercial, filmed in the store and featuring real employees and customers as their actors, became an internet sensation on YouTube with over a million hits. The commercial is ridiculous, and features bad acting, bad lighting, bad comedic timing, a bad jingle, and a gimmick based entirely on the idea that The Red House sells furniture for black people and white people (“and Hispanic people too. And ALL people!”). The commercial is absurd, yet we here at Promoting Group dare you to watch it without cracking a smile.
In conclusion, using humor in marketing can work wonders—it can give people a brief lift and even put your business on the map if your commercial or marketing is funny enough. Be careful though—what is funny to one person isn’t necessarily funny to another. Also be careful when playing with things like race, sexuality, or violence. While some clever ads, such as The Red House one, can pull off saying things like “this couch is perfect for a black person…or a white person!” you never want your ad to come off as offensive. Make sure you screen your ad or marketing strategy by many people to ensure that your ad is both funny and non-offensive. With that in mind, keep the creative juices flowing and see what you come up with.