When I was in college, one of my marketing communications professors warned against using humor in anything. “It’s not professional,” he’d say. “There’s too much risk. What if the audience doesn’t get it?”
He was right, to a certain extent. But, if you watch TV or spend any time on the internet, you’ll see that many companies use humor very effectively.
The insurance industry, taken as a whole, isn’t very funny. What’s funny about homeowners insurance? But All State, Farmers and Progressive all use humor in a powerful way.
One of the advertising campaigns that’s been running for a while is the “Get Geico, Get Happy” campaign. You know the one with the mandolin and guitar players who put the button on each commercial. “How happy are people who switched to Geico?” “Happier than (insert humorous situation here).”
The campaign utilizes everything and everyone in the commercials, including a witch, a slinky, the Pillsbury Doughboy, basketball player Dikembe Motumbo, ‘80s comedy icon Gallagher, ‘80s rock icon Eddy Money, and historical figures Christopher Columbus and Paul Revere.
Then, they used a camel and the world went nuts. “Happier than a camel on Wednesday” went viral. If the ad itself didn’t hit your Facebook feed, at least one of your friends shared the “HUMP DAY” meme for the next several weeks while the commercial ran its course.
The spot was great because it continued the pattern established by Geico. It was memorable, it was funny and it was easy to share. Most importantly, it was consistent with the branding that the company had created in its advertising several years ago with the Caveman spots.
Was this done by design? Did Geico think the camel would go viral? No. And that’s what made it work.
Tips for using humor in advertising
Humor is good at grabbing attention, but not necessarily in completing the sale. Make sure you have a good call-to-action.
If you’re using humor, it should be relevant to your objective. Make sure the advertising is consistent to your brand.
Don’t just go for the funny. This is the problem that some of the Super Bowl ads have had. People remember the spot was funny, but don’t remember who sponsored the commercial, which is a missed opportunity.
Don't over-analyze a humorous idea. It's either funny, or it's not. And if it’s funny once, you can do it again.
Let them get it. Subtle humor is fine, but being too subtle runs a risk. If you have to explain it, it’s either not funny or people don’t get it.
Test it around the office and with friends before you commit to it.
Humor should not be used to deceive or lie. Projecting a false image or promising something that you can’t deliver just to be funny is a bad business practice. Don’t do it.
It’s OK to use humor to entertain. That’s the point! If you’re writing a blog and tell funny anecdotes about the real estate business, people will come to expect seeing that every week. And they’ll share them!
Humor is best when used to poke fun at situations, not people. If your audience identifies too much with a person you’re poking fun at in your advertising, you risk offending them.
Know your audience! They can be a source of inspiration for your marketing. Chances are if they’ve had a situation happen to them, it’s happened to someone else and it will have universal appeal.
Humor can project a positive image, entertain your audience and help people to remember your brand. Sound appealing? We can help you develop effective strategies for your real estate marketing. Call us at 800.458.8245 for a free marketing consultation.