Comedy in your advertising can get you really far. We’re talking over 100 million views on YouTube far.
We’d be remiss not to mention the Harmon Brothers in an article on comedic ads. Their viral ads have garnered tens of millions of views, converting viewers to customers and creating brands that are hard to forget.
Have you ever heard of Squatty Potty, Poo-Pourri, or Purple mattresses?
If so, then you’ve seen the Harmon Brothers at work. They’re a great representation of the power of comedy in advertisements and why, even if you don’t think you have the right product, you can probably incorporate some comedic relief into your campaigns.
Here’s the breakdown of who should use comedy in their ads, when they should use it, and where to use it for the most impact.
Who Should Use Comedy in Advertisements
When it comes to comedic ads, often times businesses think it’s just not a fit for their audience. While this can be true in some cases, it’s also totally false in others. For example, using comedy in advertisements based on products like Squatty Potty and Poo-Pourri seems like low hanging fruit.
Using comedy for products like mattresses, deodorant, and tongue cleaners isn’t so obvious. Yet, the Harmon Brothers have made ads for these products go viral.
They’re a tried and true case study that proves you can bring comedy into almost any business. So, how do they get those creative comedic ideas flowing?
In their book, Poop to Gold, the Harmon Brothers describe their creative process as the necessity of creating a specific culture within your agency/business/marketing team. Executives, marketing managers, and supervisors need to trust their team, their team needs to trust them enough to feel comfortable sharing ridiculous ideas (like a pooping unicorn), and they need to trust each other for the essential collaborative environment of a viral ad.
Most businesses can use comedy in their ads, as long as they’re not selling something serious. For example, pharmaceutical companies should probably sit this one out.
When to Use Comedy in Your Ads
A powerful time to use comedy in your ads is at the very start of your marketing efforts. If your target audience is mostly unaware of your product, coming in hot with a hilarious advertisement can be the reason you become top-of-mind. It’ll also be a huge distinguisher between you and the competition.
In one of the most competitive ad words industries, the home and renters insurance company Lemonade is using light-hearted advertising to make their social media platforms an enjoyable place for prospective customers.
Their entire social media strategy is to dip everyday items into pink paint with the hashtag #CoveredByLemonade. Here’s a screenshot of their Instagram feed:
With that said, if you haven’t been using comedy in your ads but you want to start, you’re not stuck where you are. You can certainly start incorporating comedy into your digital advertising strategy by either making smaller comedic references or having an entire rebrand of your style and tone.
Mega companies have done this before—rebranding themselves with a side of comedic relief despite being initially known for general down-the-middle branding.
Remember the infamous iHOP campaign that said the pancake house was changing their name to iHOB, International House of Burgers? The comedic rebranding went viral and they sold 4 times more burgers than prior to the campaign’s launch. Thankfully, it was just a marketing campaign and not an actual rebranding (long live the pancakes), but it was a great lesson for marketers on adding comedy to a previously non-comedic brand.
Just remember, if you already have a customer-base, you want to make sure that they want the comedy as much as you do. Rebranding can be a dangerous game if it’s not done the right way. You don’t want to lose dedicated customers because they don’t recognize your brand anymore and feel alienated from it.
Where to Use Comedy in Your Ads
If you decide that your product fits with a comedic brand voice and that your customer avatar is going to appreciate it, then it’s time to figure out where you’re going to entertain your audience.
For example, you could choose to focus on YouTube videos like the Harmon Brothers or you could explore some of the many other options.
You could create an email funnel for the launch of your new SaaS product. The entire funnel can have an underlying comedic brand voice, making your subscribers that much more interested in reading the next email they get.
This is a great way to make people excited about your next touchpoint, instead of bored with another email advertisement.
This is a strategy that DigitalMarketer has been using for years. While we are totally serious about marketing and what you need to do to get the conversions you want, we’re not here to be your boring middle school science teacher.
That’s why you’ll always find an underlying tone of comedy in our emails, our blog posts, and even from Ryan Deiss giving his keynote on stage at the Traffic & Conversion Summit.
Here’s a summary of Ryan’s keynote from the 2019 Traffic & Conversion Summit: Ryan Deiss on the End of Marketing As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)
Or, you’ll find an underlying tone of humor in our emails:
Essentially, if you’re choosing to use comedy in your advertisements, that comedy needs to be seen in all of your platforms—from website to email funnel to socials to thank you pages. This is because comedy has become a staple of your brand voice.
Your brand voice fits on a spectrum between playful and authoritative. In the case of comedy, you’re leaning towards the playful side of the spectrum. This means that your target audience is always going to expect some playful nature to the content they read from you, even if it’s not full of comedy every time (ex. product descriptions).
If you’re reading this article, chances are that you’re considering bringing some comedy into your marketing strategies. The best way to do so is to sit down with your team, get the dry erase markers, and come up with the most ridiculous ideas that you can. Then, have the team go through each idea and vote, narrowing the list down to the top 3 options.
From there, look at your target audience. Which of these ads would resonate the best with them (i.e. which one is guaranteed to make them laugh out loud)?