Brand new undies? How to use humour in ads

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Walking down the road in your undies, you might remind someone to buy an ice cream. Wait, what?

“Hey! Do you remember that old 'Undies Undies Togs' Trumpet ad?”

“That was for Trumpet?! Ha – I couldn't have even told you what it was advertising!”

This conversation happened in the office this week.

When it comes to emotional appeal, in advertising, humour is a long utilised technique – and a successful one, at that. But is there a line where the humour overtakes everything, where your ad doesn’t necessarily represent your brand or business any longer? Where the humour of the ad is remembered and not your brand or message?

One side of the argument says that funny campaigns evoke a positive feeling toward your brand or product, even if only subconsciously. And the other side to the coin is that you want your brand name to be part of the word of mouth conversation, and not just the ad.

The same person who failed to recognise the Trumpet in the Undies-Togs commercial, could without hesitation relate the Paul Ego-voiced stickman with the yellow background to PAK’nSAVE. Here, we have seen two examples of humour in campaigns, with different effects on one person.

So what should you consider before you implement humour into your next campaign?

Before you reach the punchline:

  • You want your humour to be classy, as opposed to gimmicky. Don't attempt to use humour ‘for the sake of it’. Rather, it should come from an honest representation of who you are as a brand and the business story you want to tell.
  • What is the purpose of your campaign? To sell a particular product, or to foster positive associations with your brand, no matter how indirect? You purpose could be a shift to a rebrand or an explicit pitch. Purpose should define how you communicate. 

When the laughter and applause come rolling in, what's going to matter most is that you've portrayed your business story authentically. Do what fits you and will serve your business brand as a whole. Tell your story well and you will be remembered – and if you need a storyteller to work alongside you, give us a call.


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