How a Punchline Can Send a Strong Message

How a Punchline Can Send a Strong Message

Sat, Dec 22, 2018 - 19:39

  • How can I use humour to connect with my audience?
  • What techniques can help me add humour to my marketing?
  • How do I make sure I'm using humour in the right context?

They say that laughter is the best medicine. As a marketer, it can also be the best way to get your message across to your target audience.

Whether you're launching a campaign or doing a presentation, using humour helps you connect with your audience. That's because laughter lowers people's defences and makes them more open to new ideas and points of view.

People's brains also register humorous moments as positive memories. So if you present an idea wrapped in humour, people are more likely to remember it.

Let's look at an example. The CMO of a global beauty company is presenting a 105-slide deck about global growth and wants to add a bit of humour to it. How can she make her slide about global sales of the hottest new lipstick more memorable?

Even though both slides show almost the same information, the one that displays lipstick stands out in the audience's mind and is more relatable.

Let's see how Hotels.com used humour to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

Hotels.com wanted to stand out in a competitive online booking industry. They decided to humorously play on their name, implying that it made them the obvious choice for booking hotels.

As part of a North American ad campaign that has since gone global, they created Captain Obvious, a superfan.

Captain Obvious' humour came from him pointing out things that are wildly apparent, like, "Hotel gym is short for a gymnasium!"

The ad campaign's humour rested in the combination of the situational humour, the quirky appearance of the character, and his deadpan delivery of extremely obvious facts.

This humorous approach reinforced the connection between hotel bookings and Hotels.com in the target audience's minds. The campaign was a hit, resulting in a 30% increase in site traffic to Hotels.com.

Humour isn't just for ad campaigns. It's also a great storytelling device you can use in all your marketing, like social media content or blog posts, to engage any audience.

The first step to creating a humorous story is finding the game. This is coming up with a funny element in the story you want to tell in your marketing campaign.

Do this by creating a main character with an unusual trait. For example, imagine a horse rescue shelter is creating a social campaign around "horse success stories." One features Helen - a bookish, globetrotting horse.

Once you find the game, ask yourself: "If this funny/ unusual thing is true, what else is true in this world?" This will help you discover humorous elements without resorting to cheap gags.

Next, bring the game to life by setting a vivid scene and describing how the character moves and talks.

After you've established the scene, heighten the game by pushing the character and situation to the limit.

For example, Helen embarks on a journey of self-discovery spanning from Paris to India. She recounts her journey in an online diary called "Eat, Neigh, Love."

It is important to keep humour consistent by obeying the rules of the game. Every story has its own internal logic. Maintaining these rules, however arbitrary or absurd, will allow you to go as big as you want.

Think of your marketing message like a punchline. You want to build the story over time so that the final message will stand out.

Humour is all about context, especially when used in marketing. A joke is only funny when told at the right place, at the right time, to the right audience.

Make sure the humour is timely and relatable to your target audience. Jokes about politics can be funny...unless they're about an election 10 years ago or your target audience isn't of voting age.

Humour is the #1 characteristic associated with high view rates for ads, but make sure the humour you use is right for the medium: A joke that works in a 30-second TV ad might not work in a print ad.

Let's see how and where you can apply humour in your marketing:

  • Is your brand voice casual and colloquial? Yes/No
  • How do you want to be perceived by your audience?
    • As a Friend
    • As a figure of authority
  • How would you describe your service or product?
    • Fun and playful
    • Straightforward and utilitarian
  • What’s your target audience like?
    • Modern and edgy
    • Traditional
  • What do your customers come to you for?
    • An engaging experience
    • Trusted service/product

Start by finding a funny element in your brand, and think of ways of applying it to all of your marketing assets.

References: Google Webmasters, Think With Google, Google Primer

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