Funny ads may get you to laugh but will they get you to buy? Marketers seem to think so when they spend millions creating advertisements hoping that the laughter will eventually translate into sales. I often find myself laughing unbearably at an advertisement, but is laughter alone supposed to make me open my wallet?
While ads with humour do get more attention and are on average better liked, humour alone will not increase sales. According to research by a marketing analytics firm Ace Metrix, funniness has little correlation with effectiveness in a scoring system that incorporates watchability, likability and persuasion. What the study found is that while funny ads are often seen as more appealing and memorable they are best used to entertain viewers, not for convincing them to buy a product or service. When we advertise in a global context we may also encounter cross-cultural differences in the way that humour is perceived.
That being said, humour still is an effective way to increase brand awareness as it will get people, who otherwise may have never heard of you, talking about your commercial (and brand) in their everyday conversations. This word of mouth is an essential step in creating brand recognition. However, if your brand is already well known, the water cooler talk that funny commercials and billboard ads create can only take your brand recognition so far.
In order to increase the effectiveness of commercials, there should be some relevance to the product or service being advertised and the content of the ad. “Just being funny doesn’t make an ad better, but being funny, relevant and informative are the things that really make an ad work,” says Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix. How often have you been left scratching your head wondering what exactly the ad was selling? Relating the humour to the product or service is an essential step that is often missed.
So finally, can advertisers still be effective and funny at the same time? The key is to create a campaign that involves humour, but does not rely on it. The most effective ads don’t just grab a consumer’s attention, they help solve a problem or satisfy a need. Building your ad around a benefit rather than a specific feature will make it more memorable. For example, automotive advertisers typically try to get you to associate their cars with the benefits of safety or reliability, as opposed to heated leather seats and sunroofs. If you want consumers to laugh, show them a funny commercial. If you want them to buy your brand, get their attention with humour but leave them with a realization of a problem and how you can help solve it.
Funny or Fail? Do these advertisements make you want to spend or just laugh?