I would like you to take a moment and think of your favorite advertisement. What about it did you love? What about it made it stay with you? What about it made you want to spam all your friends, neighbors, and possibly even strangers with Youtube videos, sound clips and screenshots?
I would be willing to bet my left pinky (which I’m particularly fond of, so take this bet seriously now) that most of you immediately thought of an advertisement that made you laugh. Humorous advertisements have a certain level of staying power, but why?
Humor can act as a gateway into the minds and hearts of an audience. When people laugh or smile they immediately feel better. This chemical reaction lowers stress levels, relaxes the muscles and improves mood. So really it’s no wonder that many of our favorite commercials, ads and products tend to be ones that make us laugh so hard we fall off the couch (this has happened, don’t judge). When we laugh, we feel better and when we feel better we’re more open to new things.
Humor’s ability to cheer us up and stay in our minds has had surprisingly powerful results. Viral ad campaigns, such as Old Spice’s ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ or Blendtec’s ‘Will It Blend,’ are insanely popular, and are effective methods of spreading brand awareness. Combining direct advertising and quirky humor, these campaigns have seen unbelievable success by exploiting people’s urge to share what they find funny. This form of marketing is a much more advanced version of the good ol’ dancing baby days.
As a designer, I take every opportunity I can to slip a funny into my projects. To me, there are very few occasions when humor is inappropriate. Everything we do is an opportunity to make people smile. It doesn’t have to cause a big guffaw or even a little chuckle. Sometimes it’s just one line that gives your reader their grin for the day. Not only does it help me get my message across and stay in the memory of my viewers, it also means I improved someone’s day. If only a little.
Then again, I’ve accidentally cracked a joke at a funeral. And then wondered why everyone was glaring. So maybe I’m not the best judge…