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Laughing All the Way to the Bank?

by Debbie MacInnis  |  
November 6, 2001

Trials and Tribulations of Humor in Advertising

Look through a reel of award winning commercials or a set of award winning print ads and one thing seems to stand out as irrefutably true - most are funny. Laughter is indeed the best medicine and we all love to be entertained by the comedic. There are some really positive things about using humor.

Bring on the Clowns!

First, humor is fun and we like to approach fun things. As such, people are more likely to attend to commercials if they know they're designed to be funny.

Second, humor relaxes audiences and gets their defenses down. If you think your target audience is going to argue against your message, humor can put them off guard and make it less likely that they will think badly of your ad or brand.

Second, humor can put people into a good mood, and this good mood can make them like your ad and even your brand better than before.

Third, humor can give your brand a more comfortable and less formal feeling. That's good if that's what you are after in terms of image.

What's So Funny About my Product?

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Debbie MacInnis is the Charles L. and Ramona I. Hilliard Professor of Business Administration and a professor of marketing at USC's Marshall School of Business. She is co-author of a recent book on brand admiration, which blends years of best-practice thinking from academia with the real-world practice of marketing.

LinkedIn: Debbie MacInnis


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