'That was funny, but what was the brand again?': Humorous television commercials and brand linkage

Paul van Kuilenburg, Menno D.T. de Jong and Thomas J.L. van Rompay

Institute for Behavioral Research, University of Twente

Despite the controversies about the effectiveness of humorous advertisements, it cannot be denied that humour plays a prominent role in advertising. According to Beard (2005), one out of every five television ads contains humorous appeals. Earlier estimates of the proportion of ads using humour even amount to 30% and up (Weinberger & Campbell 1991; Weinberger et al. 1995). In line with such figures, the use of humour in advertising is generally appreciated by the public, as is underlined by the many popular television shows and award ceremonies on funny commercials, the many weblogs on humorous advertising, and postings on video portals such as YouTube. Such widespread appreciation is all the more important when considering the increased power consumers have to avoid television commercials. For instance, they have the possibility to zap away to many other television stations during commercial breaks or to record television programmes and skip the commercial breaks while watching. Developments like interactive television and the integration of television and the internet will probably further increase the control consumers have over their exposure to television commercials. More than ever before, viewers decide for themselves whether or not they want to watch commercials. The use of humour seems a promising way to positively influence that decision.