Funny brings in honey

Using the humour effect in marketing

It might not be 100% accurate to say that laughter is always the best medicine. 

However, it’s safe to say that laughter has its benefits. Some of the most commonly known and essential benefits are reducing stress, boosting happiness, boosting your immune system, increasing your ability to tolerate pain, etc. One of the more hidden positive effects of laughter is that it enhances your memory and increases the chances of recall. 

Does this happen to you? Think about it, aren’t funny mishaps the only thing that we remember from all our family reunions? Even when you think about tv shows or movies, what we remember the most are the funny bits. 

This influence of humour on our memory is known as the humour effect. It is a cognitive bias that causes people to remember information better when they perceive it as humorous. To further understand this influence in-depth, please know that we have various types of memory with multiple functions. For example, we have recognition memory, which involves recognising things that one has encountered and recall memory, which consists of retrieving past information. Humour enhances all of these kinds of memory. Humour not only works for a verbal or visual memory but also works for a mixed one. 

But why am I suddenly talking about humour? 

As I have mentioned above, humour comes with a sea of benefits. Fortunately, almost all these benefits are applicable in the world of advertisements as well, especially the humour effect. Consumers most enjoy being entertained instead of being pitched to, therefore using humour can lead to better engagement with your brand. For example, for a company like Cisco selling $100,000 computer routers, it can be challenging to put a commercial together that will appeal to anyone but hardcore tech programmers. But thinking creatively and beyond the product, we can create something that becomes a viral hit and appeals to the customers while allowing others who may have zero intention to buy the product to share it with their friends, raising brand awareness.

Humour seems like a pretty simple tool to use. All you have to do is make people laugh, right? In general, it might be true; however, with advertisements, there is an added pressure of making the humour effective. For example, if your advertisement fails to talk about your brand effectively, will just being funny be enough? 

One of the best tricks to overcome this barrier can be to select the right kind of humour to use. Yes, you read that right. Humour can be of more than one type. For you to pick the right one, you should know the different kinds. Here are some of the most commonly used different types of humour - 

  1. Deadpan humour - All the Dwight Shrute fans out there know what I am talking about.  It’s the so-blunt-it’s-almost-awkward type of comedy that is so emotionless and so weird that it evokes laughter in you. The term ‘deadpan’ means the expressionless face of someone telling such a joke, with ‘pan’ being an old slang meaning ‘face’. This kind of humour lurks just beneath a serious-sounding message meant for those who get it. Its strength lies in the surprise element. Usually, this is an excellent way for brands to convey information about their product creatively and absurdly.

  1. Irreverent humour - This type of humour is certainly not for everyone as it can easily offend people but can pack a serious punch when executed well. It is very famous on social media, especially with the younger generation. This type is distinctly mocking in nature and intentionally disrespectful. A considerable drawback of such humour is that it can offend people who don’t have a taste for it. But those who enjoy it, according to cognitive studies, are supposed to be highly intelligent. This might not be a good idea if your target audience is from the older generation. 

(C) Absurd humour - It is that weird kind of humour that pays off. A little use of it, mixed with a pinch of silliness, can be perfect for delighting your customers. Absurd humour, like nonsense poems, can catch on. A bit of unpredictability goes a long way when used accurately.

(d) Slapstick humour - Slapstick comedy is a physical kind based around silly stumbles and mild comic violence – smacks in the head or people falling, etc. While it is often thought incredibly ridiculous, some of the best marketing strategies include this sort of humour. It is more action than words and requires excellent timing, animated facial expressions, and quite a bit of acrobatics to pull off.

Like everything else, if you add humour to your advertisements, you should have a purpose for it. Unfortunately, purposeless humour can very quickly turn distasteful.

Some quick takeaways -

  • Humous has many benefits like reducing stress, boosting happiness, boosting your immune system, increasing your ability to tolerate pain, etc.

  • This influence of humour on our memory is known as the humour effect. It is a cognitive bias that causes people to remember information better when they perceive it as humorous.

  • Humour can be used in advertisements to make them more memorable and more effective. 

  • Various kinds of humour can be used for advertising various products and services.