Media Buying and Inbound Marketing Blog

Media Buying 101: Should You Use Humor in Your Ad Campaign?

By Jane Peters on April 25, 2013 |


The Super Bowl commercials all try to “out funny” each other, but while humor can work for some brands, it may not be right for everyone.  media buyer, inbound marketing 

A viewer’s level of entertainment increases the chances that he will watch an ad. But too much and viewers lose sight of the brand or product being advertised.

No one wants a funny lawyer or dentist.  Humor in these campaigns would have the opposite of the desired effect…showing professionalism and competency. 

Humor can be effective tool for engaging viewers but it's hard to get it right. Running an ad that isn't appropriate can offend viewers instead of amusing them. 

Funny beer commercials may work, but the joke grows stale when combined with astronomical ad budgets.  Your advertising campaign’s frequency is a big factor when deciding to use humor. 

One of the most important aspects of any media buy is "reach" and "frequency" attained by the media schedule. 

The two elements are intertwined.  Reaching broad numbers of the target without enough frequency to have an effect on the target audience's behavior is ineffective.  But reaching too few people with a lot of frequency may not produce the desired result either.

Radio was always considered a frequency medium.  Listeners needed lots of exposure to have any effect on consumer behavior. But with the proliferation of cable networks and channel surfing with remotes, and the use of DVRs to avoid commercials, the need for increased frequency on TV has become essential.

But when does humor hurt your campaign rather than help it?  When viewers have seen the spot and know the joke they start to find your commercial annoying.  Then you have passed the point of no or little return on your investment.

Everyone likes a good joke, but these funny commercials have the tendency to grow stale quickly.  AT&T has some very amusing spots with children.  They have successfully avoided the over kill factor, by using multiples with the same theme.  With their huge budgets, viewers would soon grow tired of the message if they ran the same spot over and over.

When considering humor in your campaign, you need to know your brand, your audience and your frequency. You don't want to kill your campaign with an old joke.

Humor in your commercials needs to be appropriate appropriate to both product and customer. Obnoxious ads can work against your goals. An advertiser needs to insure that the positive effects outweigh the negative ones. 

What funny commercials do you like?

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