The Joke's on Who? Is Humor in Advertising Really Effective?

Does using levity in your advertising strategy really help you sell your product or service?

Is using humor in your advertising really effective or a waste of your time and money? See how three renegade marketers used comedy to literally double sales overnight.

September 11, 2017 by Brad Bruckner

Ever find yourself scrolling through your feed, daring someone, ANYONE to capture your attention before your thumb returns to its natural ‘continue scrolling’ position at the bottom of your screen?

If you’re like the rest of us, you break for humor. Funny grabs attention!

Consumers don't care how big your advertising budget or your company is. If you can pull off funny and relevant, the marketplace will shower rewards on you.

Not convinced?

Take a look at these three renegade comedic marketers:

Dollar Shave Club

Founded in 2011, Dollar Shave Club had two overwhelming challenges. First, they had a dull product, which almost no one found funny. Secondly, their main competitor was Gillette a heavyweight, household name.

In 2012, 24 hours (literally overnight!) after releasing an over-the-top, humorous YouTube video the company had 12,000 orders. The company went on to over $240 million in sales and was recently sold to Unilever for a not-so-funny one billion.

Poo Pourri

After going belly up in two startups, Suzy Batiz became flush with success marketing Poo Pourri. An oil based spray that you squirt on the surface of the toilet water before you go. The company grew slowly for its first six years. Then in 2013, a hilarious YouTube video exploded sales. Annual sales now exceed 30 million.


In 2006, Blendtec was a small manufacturer of high-performance blenders. They had an excellent product but low brand awareness. They gambled their entire $50 marketing budget on a bag of marbles, a 12-pack of Diet Coke, a McDonald’s meal, one rotisserie chicken, and a garden rake. Owner Tom Dickson blended each of the items on camera over several YouTube videos. The result? A 500% increase in sales.

By just watching these videos you can learn a lot about how to make your marketing engaging and funny.

Want to get started injecting a little humor in your marketing?

Use these tips as a guide:

  Make sure your message and objective are clear. Avoid being funny or cute for no reason. The Blendtec videos increased sales because they showed how powerful the blender was. Remember no one buys from a clown.

  Good comedy doesn’t come easy. Do yourself a favor and make yours relevant to your objective. Well-placed wit will capture attention, enhance recall, develop favorable opinion, and influence purchase intent.

  Think creatively and beyond your product. Tap into the frustrations of your market like Dollar Shave Club did. By doing so, you’ll not only appeal to your customers, but you’ll raise your brand’s awareness, encourage sharing, and attract new audience members.

  Be Careful of Sensitive Situations. This almost goes with saying. If your business deals with serious subjects such as funerals, financial investments, or even luxury goods you should avoid trying being a comedian.

  Engage and provoke your target audience. Tailor your ad’s humor to a specific demographic that shares a similar sense of humor. The Poo Pourri videos were clearly aimed at young women. Trying to be funny to everyone almost always backfires. When you target your comedy, and more importantly your message, it becomes entertaining, memorable, and sustaining.

  Remember that rules are meant to be broken! The best humor often walks the edge, and from time to time calls on you to redefine it! Watch the Dollar Shave Club video again and note his outrageousness.

Now, these tips hold true across the board. No matter if you’re advertising on TV, in print, or on the Internet. But they are by no means absolute or complete. Use them as stepping-stones to improve your advertising game and results.

By the way, the joke's on us. Send us your idea and we'll make it funny,

Posted by Brad Bruckner on September 11th

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