So, You Think You’re Funny? Give It a Shot with Your Marketing

Written by: Theano Karavangelas

Can we agree it’s been a tough year? Good. So now what? How do you grow, or even retain, your audience? “These uncertain times” have really put things into perspective, and while some marketers have leaned into this heightened emotion, we’re making the case that sometimes, humor is the key to success. We could use a break from the stress and heaviness of it all, so go ahead and weave some light-heartedness into your messaging. Sure, you’ll give your audience the mental refresh they need, but you may also see a boost in social engagement. 

To be clear: you don’t have to be a comedian or the ultimate jokester to create something fun, exciting and memorable for your audience. Humor is rooted in the courage and confidence to tell a story that is captivating, meaningful, and pleasant, and gives an edgy essence to your overarching goal. Ramp up your meme swag, get weird with pop culture references, or as 2020 is limping across the finish line (phew), go ahead and call it out for being so exhaustingly dramatic. Do you despise the person who started the phrase, “I hope this email finds you well?” Create a meme about the emotional sentiment behind it! According to Business 2 Community, all you need is a “relatable idea + applicable image/video + a personal twist from your brand and that equals Meme Marketing.” Simple enough, right? And P.S., if you can’t calculate this formula, that itself is meme-worthy!

Humor and Business?

If you think there isn’t much space for banter in the business world, you’re wrong. Your brand is defined by your audience and not the executives that run the operations. Can you shift from a serious, tech-jargony voice, to hitting your audience with some type of irreverent humor? Do your research, understand what interests your audience most, what is best for the time and platform used, and voilà: you’ll have your audience reading, reacting, and sharing your content. If you’re struggling with carving out a niche and humor style that differentiates your brand, you don’t have to be jealous of the class clown from back in the days of Bio 101. Make up your own comedic style and don’t be afraid to tap into creative risks to show that you’re not just book smart! Just make sure you always start this venture with audience research.

They say real humor needs a dash of energy, charisma, and intelligence. You certainly don’t want your marketing to feel out of touch, or bland, and even hinged on tired clichés. Your customers want your content to be relatable, memorable and to occasionally give them those awkward chuckles when they’re scrolling their phone before bed. There’s no secret recipe in producing the perfect cocktail of serotonin and dopamine that will captivate your audience – but if our research is correct, referencing “Carole Baskin” at least once in your copy will certainly help. 

Andrew Tarvin, the world’s first humor speaker and engineer, highlighted that humor is a form of communication. It can break through the overwhelming clutter of messages that people are bombarded with each day, so try to stand out and leverage that pleasant and edgy sentiment to also make you approachable to your prospects. We constantly hear “consistency is key”, but if all your posts have an unchanged tone, your content can quickly become a part of that aforementioned clutter.

No, we’re not saying that you need to join that “everything is cake” viral video challenge – even if you have used quarantine time to brush up on your baking skills. What you could do instead? Make fun of the trend! We’re all stressed, grappling with keeping track of time during the “new normal,” and it’s ok to create jokes about it. 

Don’t be afraid to spice up your social media marketing with edgy, funny, taglines, but stay true to your brand voice and always test what works best for you! If you’re really going for it and committed to joking about the pandemic, the political division pre-election, or even a popular reality tv show, just remember to make it tasteful instead of offensive. Keeping it simple is way smarter than letting something too complicated or cringy out on your channels. 

How Other Brands Are Using Humor

Here is a small compilation of funny campaigns that were successful in the past few months:

  1. Wendy’s is always the pioneer when using sarcastic wit in Social Media campaigns. With the pandemic disrupting indoor dining, the marketing team decided to promote the chain’s drive-through with a one-day free offer of nuggets! With creative wordplay, the brand broke through the depressing vibes of 2020 and also sparked amazing conversation with a video campaign and the tagline: “If we can’t hug, we might as well nug.” The brand’s intelligent humor was rewarded with 1.3 million views, skyrocketed engagement, and boosted drive-through sales.  
  1. Old Spice’s messaging strategy has followed the irreverent tone that the “Old Spice Guy” set nearly 10 years ago! The lighthearted P&G brand called men to embrace their shaggy hairstyle that resulted from lockdown restrictions and hair salon closures. But now that life is returning to a normal pace, Old Spice is still a fervent supporter of “Hats are Dumb. Hair is Awesome.” and encourages customers to use its men’s styling products for a slicker hairdo. The witty brand created several claymation ads, with men losing their hats, but remaining confident in their outgrown hair, nevertheless. The campaign was so relevant and engaging that they tapped into influencer tie-ins with professional athletes like Cody Bellinger, Travis Kelce, Tyler Herro and Christian Yelich. With humor as its core strategy, Old Spice managed to connect with Millennial and Gen Z audiences that are constantly interacting with their favorite football and basketball players on Instagram!
  1. Reese Witherspoon was apparently so distressed with the way 2020 has unfolded that she launched her own meme challenge called “2020 by month”. The viral Instagram trend depicts a 9-square grid from January to September 2020, where the actress showcases the emotional impact of the year through her different movie characters. The super-relatable meme was capitalized on by other celebrities like Mindy Kaling and Kerry Washington, while a wide variety of brands also followed the clever narrative. Some of the best brand contributions to the #2020challenge came from Netflix, Budweiser, American Girl, Cisco, KFC, Reebok and Kit Kat. Extremely relatable, cathartic and humane, this challenge is a pleasant break from the bleak reality and motivates fans to take the initiative and respond with their own representation!

Invest in your intuition, laugh in the face of stress, and you’ll earn higher engagement and more genuine reactions from your audience. Because a day without laughter in this chaotic world is a day wasted!

Bring Some Humor To Your (Social) Handles

Ready to call in the experts and make a difference with humor? We are a FLIP-tastic team (Funny, Likeable, Impressive, Positive), and we’d love to infuse your marketing with that vibe! Contact us now to start that conversation!

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