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This question has been answered, and points have been awarded.
How Effective Is The Use Of Humor In Marketing Products And Services More Successfully?
Posted by Anonymous on
3/12/2004 at 5:27 PM ET
How effective is the use of humor?
How important is the use of humor?
What are effective ways of measuring the success of using humor to promote products and services better and more dynamically?
Are there any studies available that give statistical value to the use of humor in marketing?
3/12/2004 at 5:28 PM
Humor can be very effective in many ways...especially when you need to make fun of yourself. If you can dig up a case study or even contact the agency of record for the Listerine product, this would be your best example.
3/12/2004 at 6:11 PM
Does humor work...sure! In our offices, we were just discussing the new Quiznos commercials. The 20 something males love 'em. And Quiznos sales have boomed as well. But the women think they're awful, and it detracts from their desire to purchase the product.
Humor can be very effective at positioning, getting people to have a favorable impression of your company / product, and creating word-of-mouth. It can give your company more of a personality, which helps some people "bond" with you more quickly.
But, humor is hard to use well. What's funny to one person isn't to another. Who are you willing to offend? Also, humor for humors sake is a waste of energy...and money. Many of the superbowl commercials were very humorous but did little for brand recognition or purchase (can you say dot coms?).
When using humor, I'd recommend testing it first against a control. See how well your direct mail, e-mail, advertising, etc. performs with humor versus without. You may also need to test different styles of humor to see what resonates with your customers. Again, the only humor that matters is the kind that draws more response!
Hope this perspective helps.
3/13/2004 at 3:06 AM
Help to gain the attention and brand awareness which lead to brand recognition and trial, but be careful not to destroy the image of the brand when it's not compatible with, or misinterpreted by the customers.
Measure by research survey on brand awareness, recognition, and trial.
3/13/2004 at 7:43 AM
I thought you might find the following excerpt useful. It's from a back number of my eZine, "TIPZ from SUZE"
For generations people have been saying that laughter is good medicine. And now the scientists have taken an interest it turns out great-grandma was right. The boffins have discovered that laughter releases helpful goodies in the body which boost your immune system. In fact the therapeutic benefits of laughter are now being harnessed by academia and the business community into laughter workshops and other formalized chuckle sessions. Get the workers laughing and you raise productivity, so it seems.
However it is extremely easy to get humor wrong. And a joke that’s sent to someone who doesn’t see the funny side will create more ill health through raised blood pressure than a few laughs could ever cure.
So what’s the answer? How do we harness humor and make it work for us, not against us?
People often say that the internet’s international nature makes it an unsuitable environment for humor for fear of it not translating across national boundaries – and inadvertently causing offense. But there are a couple of simple rules which – although not universal panaceas that always work – can help you use humor without risk.
Use humor about situations, not people. If you think about it, the butt of many jokes and other humor is a person or group of people, so it’s hardly surprising that offense is caused. The more extreme types are obvious - mother-in-law jokes, blonde jokes, women jokes, men jokes – but there are many more subtle ones too.
Then there are the nationality gags. I remember in one year hearing exactly the same joke (in three different languages) told by an American about the Polish, by a Canadian about Newfoundlanders, by a French person about Belgians, by a French-speaking Belgian about the Flemish, and by a Flemish person about the Dutch.
Obviously most humor is going to involve people in one way or another. But as long as the butt of the joke is a situation or set of circumstances, not the people, you’re far less likely to upset anyone. And there is an added advantage here.
Whoever they are and wherever they come from, people will usually identify with a situation. Take this one for example...
Some people are driving along at night and are stopped by a police car. The officer goes to the driver and warns him that one of the rear lights on his SUV isn’t working. The driver jumps out and looks terribly upset. The officer reassures him that he won’t get a ticket, it’s just a warning, so there’s no problem. “Oh yes there is a problem,” says the man as he rushes towards the back of the car. “if you could see my rear lights it means I’ve lost my trailer.”
As the butt of the joke is the broken rear light and the loss of the trailer, not the policeman or the driver, no-one can be offended. And most people can identify with how that would feel.
The other key issue with humor is wordplays, puns, and anything else that’s based on figurative speech, slang, or jargon. The short answer is they don’t work internationally. However if the play or double entendre is in the concept rather than the words, it probably will work.
These may be funny to us, but would not be understood by anyone who is not a good English speaker because there is a play on the words:
* Deja moo: The feeling that you've heard this bull before.
* The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.
These, however, probably would be understood because
the humor is in the concept, not in the words themselves:
* You don't stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.
* The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody appreciates how difficult it was.
Overall, I think it’s wise to use humor as a spicy condiment in your business writing. Just as you would with the chili powder in cooking, use humor in moderation if you don’t know the audience well ... and if you know they have a very sensitive palate, don’t use it at all!
Although this edition of TIPZ focused on all forms of business communication (not just marketing) I think the gist of it applies as much to marketing as other areas.
The other key issue with humor has been touched on by the others here, but I will stress it once again.
Do not let the tail wag the dog.
Make sure your humor enhances your marketing strategy and objectives, and doesn't detract from them. Otherwise, you'll end up doing wonderful advertising for the joke, and possibly all your competitors, but not for your product or service. Branding comes first, no matter how funny the rest is!
All the best and good luck - if you want to discuss this further, wing me an email (suze @ suzanstmaur.com)
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