As a creative industry that exists to influence audience perceptions and impact culture, the advertising industry – possibly more than any other – needs to know how to read the room. So, as we navigate what is being called the ‘polycrisis’ globally, let’s try get people to believe in brands that bring their feelings up, give them something to laugh about, and become memorable through the good vibes.
Time To Lighten Up
I’m a fan of funny ads. We work in a fun, creative industry where we get to do the craziest things and call it work. And I feel this industry sometimes takes itself too seriously. Purpose is important. But humour and purpose don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
This year there were so many examples of this at the Cannes Lions festival, among them some great product demo ads for Apple, that got the whole auditorium LOLing. There was even fun in the innovation space, where we got to showcase the most active chickens in Australia, from our VMLY&R team Down Under.
Incidentally, here in SA, the Nando’s X-Formerly-Twitter feed is an example of a brand that stayed true to the humour that it’s known for throughout the pandemic, while also including purpose-driven messaging. It was a balancing act, but it worked. It shows how humour can be the interface that connects the audience with the purpose by getting people to take notice and engage with the content.
People Like Funny
Research backs that up. Stats out of Kantar shared at the Cannes Festival this year showed that humorous emotions had the most “very large business effects” when it comes to advertising.
That means humour is not just fun and games – humour makes business sense. The Kantar research found that people engage with funny ads more and share funny ads more than they do serious ads. It increases brand affinity and broadens reach.
The Case For Intentional Humour
Of course, humour can also go horribly wrong. And brand managers who are wary of it are not without reason. Make it tasteless, and humour can get your brand cancelled in the time it takes to tweet a scathing emoji. The key is to be intentional with it.
1/ Know your audience. It’s the age-old content mantra and it’s still true. If you have a good understanding of your audience, you’ll know what they’ll find funny, what they’ll find offensive and what will go over their heads.
2/ Don’t be mean. Schadenfreude gets a lot of engagement, but it’s not necessarily the space brands should be playing in. Keep your jokes light-hearted and relatable.
3/ Be clever. Advertising has a bad historic track record when it comes to humour. The industry has been guilty of perpetuating harmful stereotypes in the past, but I like to think that creatives in 2023 know better. Clever humour that taps into the cultural Zeitgeist is the key to being funny without resorting to cheap laughs.
Humour is back and it’s going to be good for the industry, good for the audience and great for business. I’m looking forward to seeing how brands entertain us.
Originally published on Media Update.