Marketing Humor: Help People See Something Differently

How much does a hipster weigh?

An insta-gram.

Ba da Ting! Marketing humor is everywhere. From Wendy's Twitter account to GEICO insurance commercials (my favorite is the He-Man commercial) you can tell that humor isn't going anywhere.

There are sound scientific reasons for this. When someone experiences something they think is funny, their body releases endorphins, the same hormone that makes the "runner's high" it makes you feel good, happy, and relaxed.  Humor promotes bonding and makes you friendly.  It also activates memory really well which means your marketing is more likely to stick with a potential client.

With all these fabulous benefits, let's talk a little more about why and how you should use marketing humor in your brand campaigns.

Why Should You Use Marketing Humor?

  • Humor grabs attention
  • Causes endorphin release
  • People love to share humor
  • Funny things are easier to remember
  • Humor strengthens trust
  • Increases engagement


When is Humor Right for Your Brand?

Marketing humor

Brand Archetypes that suit humor marketing:

  • Jester: go crazy with the humor with this archetype. Push the boundaries but make sure not to go all the way over the edge and start offending people.  Get wacky and keep the energy high with puns, visual gags, bright colors and lots of LOLZ.
  • Outlaw: edgy humor, sarcasm, and irony all fit well with the outlaw archetype. It's the outlaws job to be wild and free which fits well with a humor-based marketing plan.  Stay away from wild gags or silliness and steer more toward clever jokes that point out the Emporer's new clothes might just be extra in a way he didn't expect.
  • Neighbor:  the neighbor archetype is friendly, helpful, and approachable. Humor is a great way to build up trust and friendship and it's never more suitable than with this archetype.  Think dad jokes, silly puns and goofy groaners to make your audience mellow out and like you all the more.
  • Innocent: is fresh, dewy, and like a spring breeze and their humor should be just as sweet and clean as their archetype.  Think adorable kittens, funny bird dances, and all the silly things that kids can do. This archetype's humor should make you say, "Awww..." at the same time that you're smiling.

When Marketing Humor Isn't a Laugh Riot

Not every archetype, brand, or marketing campaign is suitable for humor.  Sometimes it's just in bad taste and it's important to keep that in mind. Here's some of the archetypes that don't always mesh well with humor:

  • The Ruler: a focus on excellence, leadership, and control doesn't always lend itself to humor. If you do want to include humor with a marketing campaign using this archetype, consider clever jokes involving jargon. Keep your wit about you, and don't get goofy.
  • The Guru: this brand is all about knowledge and skill, the guru knows what's going down, and humor can be self-deprecating for this brand. Like the ruler, excellence is key, so stick to being clever and witty.
  • The Mother: is about care, gentleness, and safety.  Satire, wittiness, and irony are right out. As is anything too wild or high energy. If you want to do some humor, like the Innocent, make sure you're taking the high road and making it sweet as well as funny.

There are downsides to humor. The wrong joke at the wrong time can just be offensive, and sometimes jokes can come off as exploitative rather than funny. Humor can make people take you less seriously or make you seem foolish so be aware of your brand and what will and won't work. Some situations and topics of a sensitive nature aren't appropriate for humor, so be aware of those lines and where they lay for your target audience.

Humor How? What's Funny For your Marketing?

marketing humor: a meme of the matrix, asking "what if I told you memes can be used for marketing?"

There are a lot of different kinds of humor and different ways to inject a little humor into your content marketing campaign.  It really is a great way to liven things up a little. In a world of endless scrolling, a good joke landed well can really help you stick out from the crowd. Here's a few of the kinds of humor you can use. Make sure your humor style matches your brand:

  • Slapstick Humor
  • Self-Deprecating Humor
  • Absurdist Humor
  • Sarcastic Humor
  • Punny Humor
  • Potty Humor
  • Dark Humor

Memes are a great way to add a little marketing humor to your feed. You can either borrow memes that have already been made or you can make your own with an online meme generator. Jargony puns give you an opportunity for people to feel like they get to be in on an inside joke and also give you a chance to explain that jargon if you think your target audience might not know what you're talking about.   Visual humor works very well for social media content, if you can find what you're looking for.

GIFs are a fun way to inject humor and movement into your social media feed, though you'll need to export them as an mp4 in order to post properly to Instagram.  Funny graphics and cartoons are another way to borrow what's already been made and repurpose it for your feed.  Just make sure you have the proper license for anything you post on a commercial social media feed.


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