Humor and Advertising Don’t Mix? You Just Don’t Have a Sense of Humor!

Humor: One of the Best Advertising MethodsSex, money, and religion. What do they all have in common? They are the three subjects that are most powerful when getting a person’s attention. However, when it comes to developing catchy advertising, I can add another subject to that list: Humor.Humor works and that’s the bottom line. People always say to be wary of humorous advertising because it can work against you. These people believe that when you use humor you could offend some people by being stereotypical, too clever, not clever enough, or flat out insulting. But when advertising works against you, it can still work very much for you.Before you jump all over me with your arguments, let me first lay out some ground rules for this article. I’m assuming that no business would be dumb enough to run an ad simply to offend people. You pull that kind of a stunt and you’re going to get what you deserve – a lawsuit. Additionally, I’m assuming that when you run a humorous ad that has the potential to offend, you take that into account when planning the overall reaction to the advertisement.Dispelling the “Offensive Humor Only Hurts” StoryYour business has a target market. And your advertisements, if done correctly, are geared towards this target market. This is the general rule companies follow. But other demographics are going to see your ad. You can’t possibly stop this from happening.So when Spike TV advertises some extreme wrestling match or a Sport Illustrated photo shoot, they are most likely going to use scantily clad women and crude jokes in the ads (if you don’t believe me, take a look at their website). Some women will naturally be offended by this. But you know what? That woman will sit around with her husband, her sons, her brothers, or male co-workers and talk about how she was offended. These men, who the ad targeted in the first place, most likely enjoyed the ad, but it probably did not make a huge impression upon them. Having this woman bring up negative comments about the ad will actually remind the target demographic of how much they enjoyed it (or at least it acts as another impression).Let’s take into consideration that this offended person does not talk to the target demographic like in the example above. These conversations still act as impressions even when these people did not see the ad. It is the truest type of buzz campaign – a campaign that gets people talking about a company’s ads and products.Don’t Worry If You Offend People!As I said before, no business advertises itself simply wanting to offend people and expects their ads to get published. However, the chance you offend someone with a humorous ad is definitely out there. But, you know what? That’s good. Not everyone is going to love you or your sense of humor.We can take our above example and combine it with the general rule of thumb that a satisfied customer will tell 1-3 people and a dissatisfied customer will tell 10 or more people. If you failed arithmetic in elementary school then please do not read on…Let’s say you’re offending 10% of the people with the humor you use in your ad. This one person will have 10 conversations about your advertising. And they’re most likely talking about your advertising – not your product! You could still have the greatest product in the world and this person is just criticizing your ads. As mentioned before, these 10 conversations could be with people who loved your ad or simply forgot it right after viewing it. Either way, this one person is getting 10 people thinking more about your ad. Now that’s what I call good advertising!Your Humorous Advertising Should Stir Things UpIf done correctly, your ads will inform your target market about your product and get them talking about it. Now if you are successful in generating a little bit of buzz, you’ll reach even more people outside of your target market and your customers will start doing the advertising for you.Humorous advertising, although risky, can be very beneficial. Your target market will most likely understand your humor. Viewers outside your target may get offended, but this will actually work for you. As long as you’re not trying to offend someone, then the buzz that gets generated by your ads will be very positive to your advertising campaign.Just remember, people that like your ads aren’t going to tell you they like them. It’s the dissatisfied or offended people that will make a big deal out of it. So take advertising complaints in stride and stick in there. Everyone has a different sense of humor. And if you’re stirring some peoples’ emotions up, then you’re doing your job as an advertiser!