stick figures chatting

The essence of marketing is to evoke an emotion from your audience so they are motivated to buy, download, or otherwise engage with your brand.

The true marketer’s dream is for that evoked emotion to propel a user from a customer to a referrer; and have them share their brand experience with a relative, friend, colleague, or Yelp user.

The biggest question marketers are left with is which emotion would be most compelling toward that goal. While some would argue it would be fear, guilt, or urgency, most of these emotions leave a bad aftertaste.

So how can you make an emotional and positive marketing impact?

Be funny.

Sure, easier said than done. Funny is subjective and leaves room for misinterpretation. But, it also leaves room for discussion around why someone may think something is or is not funny. In turn, this keeps your brand on the tip of the tongue to increase brand awareness.

In a 1993 Journal of Marketing study, the effect of humor in advertising was described as “more likely to secure audience attention, increase memorability, overcome sales resistance, and enhance message persuasiveness.”

Seems not much has changed since that study, since more recently in 2013, Kmart attempted to grab users by the funny bone with their “Ship My Pants” commercial which advertised their new free ship-to-store option.

This slightly controversial commercial came out of a dire attempt for the retail store to boost sales during a pretty low season. With large competitors like Walmart and Target in the mix, Kmart had to do something risky and funny to distinguish itself from the crowd.

Though some users found the humor vulgar, Kmart came out with a variety of commercials using the same schtick. It showed they were proud of the discussion they were starting (and I’m sure the sales they were making).

Another brand that tried something similar was Verizon and their “Half-Fast Internet” campaign. The commercial centered on how quickly Verizon FiOS can upload your content online.

Unfortunately, Verizon wasn’t as sure of their release of the campaign; users complained on forums and on Facebook enough that those are the only places where you can now view the commercial. They have been removed from the FiOS YouTube page, and old posts of the video have been set to private.

The moral of this story is if you want to be tactful AND funny you have to create a campaign and OWN IT!

For example, if you are the CEO of your company, create a commercial about how “****ing great” your product is and be the one to talk about it; like Mike Dubin from Dollar Shave Club did here:

Or, if you want a more PG-rated version, make an impact like Old Spice and Charmin do on Twitter:

The key to these funny campaigns is to stick to your brand.

If you have made a joke (a bit crude or more conservative) but have stayed true to your brand, your loyal customers will stick with you and others will want to get to know you!

The trick is to have the courage to try something daring out.

Which controversial campaign left you laughing and got you buying? Share them with us in the comments!

About the Author: Deanna Zaucha is the Content Marketing Coordinator for Webs and Pagemodo, and also manages our social media presence. She can be found on a dance floor, or on her iPhone keeping up with trends in marketing and tech. Get more from Deanna on the Webs Blog and Twitter.

One Response

  1. Reply
    Andrew
    Feb 05, 2015 - 10:41 PM

    I thought that K-Mart commercial was hilarious! That’s the kind of marketing people will go out of their way to share 🙂

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