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Jun 17 2024

International Joke Day: Does Funny Marketing Work?

In the UK, humour is a big part of our national identity. From bizarre surrealism to cutting satire, it’s been a constant vein in our cultural story for centuries. It’s no surprise, then, that comedy can also be a really powerful tool in marketing. As with any tool, though, it has to be used wisely.


So, to celebrate International Joke Day, we thought we’d take a look at the dos and don’ts of humour in marketing and try to figure out whether funny marketing is effective or not.


Why Humour Works

The effectiveness of funny marketing lies in its psychological impact. Humour triggers a release of endorphins, creating a sense of pleasure and positivity. This positive emotional response can form a favourable association with the brand, making consumers more likely to remember and engage with the content.


It grabs your attention.

In a crowded marketplace, where consumers are bombarded with countless advertisements daily, a clever joke or funny situation can make an ad stand out. This attention-grabbing quality can be extra effective in digital marketing, where scrolling through content is fast-paced.


And it doesn’t let go.

Memory retention is another crucial factor. Studies have shown that people are more likely to remember information presented in a funny context. A memorable advertisement means that the brand stays on top of mind for longer after the initial viewing, which can lead to increased brand recall when making purchasing decisions.


It’s a talking point, too.

Humour significantly enhances social sharing. Content that makes people laugh is more likely to be shared among friends, family, and social networks, leading to organic reach and potential virality. This is particularly important when it comes to social media marketing, where user-generated sharing can amplify a brand’s message far beyond its initial scope.


Where Has Funny Marketing Worked?

Old Spice – “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”

This iconic campaign is one of the most famous examples of the effectiveness of humour in marketing. Launched in 2010, the campaign featured actor Isaiah Mustafa delivering rapid-fire monologues in absurd and fantastical settings, all while extolling the virtues of Old Spice body wash.


old spice funny marketing - International Joke Day: Does Funny Marketing Work?

Image Source: The Drum

The humour worked on a few key levels.

  • Firstly, it played on conventional notions in a way that was both self-aware and exaggerated. The over-the-top scenarios – like Mustafa riding a horse or standing in a waterfall – added an element of surprise and bizarreness that resonated with audiences.
  • Secondly, the witty, fast-paced script kept viewers engaged, encouraging repeat viewings to catch every joke.


The results were staggering.

The campaign led to a 125% increase in Old Spice sales within six months, and garnered immense social media engagement, with millions of views on YouTube. Old Spice’s brand image was revitalised, transforming it from a dated product to a contemporary and desirable brand.


For marketers, the key takeaway is the importance of aligning humour with the brand’s identity and ensuring it is connected with the target audience.


Aldi’s Social Media Engagement

Aldi has masterfully used humour to build a really strong presence on social media. Their tone is witty, cheeky, and sometimes downright confrontational – but always in a self-aware fashion.


Think Cuthbert the Caterpillar.

Aldi entered into a tongue-in-cheek feud with fellow supermarket Marks & Spencer over competing caterpillar cakes. This worked the oracle for Aldi, as it aligned perfectly with their brand image – affordable, no-nonsense, and relatable.


Colin cuthbert the caterpillar funny marketing - International Joke Day: Does Funny Marketing Work?

Image Source: Metro


It was also, in many ways, a failsafe strategy, as Aldi and M&S tend to appeal to different ends of the supermarket consumer base. This meant that Aldi was able to present itself as a good-humoured, down-to-earth alternative to other, more ‘exclusive’ supermarkets.


The impact is evident in their social media metrics.

Posts often receive thousands of likes, shares, and comments, indicating high levels of engagement. Moreover, customer feedback frequently highlights the appreciation for Aldi’s light-hearted and approachable tone.


When Humour in Marketing Can Backfire

Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner Ad

2017 saw one of the most famous examples of an attempt at funny marketing failing. Pepsi released an ad featuring Kendall Jenner that was intended to convey a message of heart-warming humour and peace. The ad showed Jenner joining a protest and handing a can of Pepsi to a police officer, seemingly resolving the tension between protesters and law enforcement.


Kendall jenner failed marketing funny - International Joke Day: Does Funny Marketing Work?

Image Source: SBS


Critics accused the ad of trivialising social justice movements and appropriating serious issues for commercial gain. The attempt at uplifting and unifying humour was perceived as tone-deaf and insensitive.


Samsung’s Exploding Note 7

The year before Pepsi’s ad, Samsung faced a crisis when reports emerged that its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones were catching fire and exploding. Initially, Samsung attempted to address the situation with humour, but this didn’t entirely go to plan.


The public did turn the disaster into a source of humour through memes and online jokes, but these generally came at the expense of Samsung, with the company as the butt of the joke. The discrepancy between the brand’s attempts at humour and the public’s reaction underscored the importance of timing and context in crisis communication.


So, Does Funny Marketing Work?

As with any strategy, the answer is yes when it’s done properly. In order to fully harness the effectiveness of funny marketing, businesses need to ensure they’re on top of the key areas.


The examples we’ve shown here display that knowing your audience is crucial when creating funny content. Demographics like age, gender, and cultural background all influence what people find funny.


Insights into values and interests can also ensure that humour aligns with your customer’s preferences. You can understand more about this by conducting surveys, engaging in social listening, and analysing engagement metrics.


Want Support in Crafting A Funny Marketing Campaign?

Our digital marketing expertise ensures your brand stands out with innovative, bespoke strategies tailored to your needs. From campaigns and social media to conversion rate optimisation, we cover it all in-house to the highest standards.


We work with companies of all sizes across the UK, combining your knowledge with our creative flair. Ready to drive your business forward? Contact us today, and let’s create something extraordinary together!


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Elly Cattermole

Our marketing and creative demon - Elly is here to keep you updated on any new developments in the industry. Her keen eye for social media updates (they happen more than you think!) and new ideas to market your business means she’s in the know for all things content.

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