Although there’s a much-repeated adage in advertising that “sex sells,” it seems that Australians are more likely to respond to an advert that makes them laugh. A recent survey from Adobe and Edelman Berland reported that 79% of respondents preferred humorous ads over any other type, and that 95% of consumers polled believed that advertising was capable of influencing their behaviour. If you look at many of the most successful marketing campaigns over the past few years, the majority employ humour in some way. Both traditional and online businesses are embracing a quirky sensibility to make their customers laugh, and enjoying the resulting profits.
Using Humour Effectively
The best humour doesn’t beat you over the head with a punch line, but may have a memorable tagline or phrase that gets stuck in the viewer’s head. Using humour in advertising allows a brand to bring a smile to the viewer’s face, instantly creating positive associations without seeming too “salesy” in the process. To be effective, a funny advert needs to push boundaries a bit or create a sense of enjoyment. Many brands combine humour with nostalgia to create a deeper emotional response in the viewer. Placing a celebrity in a humorous situation can make the advert more memorable, as seen in the recent Pat Cash ads for Quicksales.
Keeping the comedy light-hearted and good-natured is recommended for advertisers. Using sharp sarcasm can appeal to a certain subsection of the audience, but it can leave others feeing out of the loop. It’s also best to avoid getting too heavy handed with the sales pitch in a comedy advert, which could spoil the viewer’s sense of enjoyment and create negative associations with the brand. The best use of humour will somehow relate to your brand while creating a positive feeling of enjoyment in the audience.
Popular Australian Ad Campaigns
The “punny “Pat Cash ad for Quicksales.com.au mentioned above is one example of an effective use of humour in advertising, but Australians have long been fans of the comedy advert. Carlton’s beer chase ad was one of the funniest of 2012, using all the visuals of a cinematically epic car chase. Carlton tends to embrace a silly and over-the-top aesthetic that is right on the money for a beer brand. Another brand that has been extremely successful with the use of comedic advertising is Australia’s Yellow Pages. Perhaps the best example of this was their 2002 advertisement featuring Deborah Kennedy going through anger management. This spawned the catch phrase “Not happy, Jan,” which has become a regular part of the Australian vernacular.
Humour is also used frequently in informal online content, as brands strive to create videos that will go viral. Nova’s parody of “Call me Maybe” was one of the most-watched viral ads of 2012, and the “Barbie Girl” parody for Meat and Livestock Australia came in close behind. Both used pop tunes in unexpected ways, with the actual product getting a secondary spotlight.
Whether in a professional advertisement or online viral content, humour is a powerful tool for Australian brands. When employed effectively, it can be far more memorable than any other type of marketing.