It makes me laugh but was it good for you?

Ian Sippitt and Chlo Fowler, Leapfrog, take a fresh look at humour in advertising and examine its gender specification

THE USE of humour is more widespread in British advertising than it is in most other countries. Indeed, it has been calculated that at least one-third of uk advertising contains an element of humour. One of the reasons for this is the inherent Anglo-Saxon trait of self-deprecation, typified by comediennes like Jo Brand. The British, generally, have a natural inclination to mock themselves, because they do not want to be accused of 'taking themselves too seriously'. This is a theme to which we shall return.

The specific purposes of this article are to explore the way humour works within advertising, to develop diagnostic models for analysing the effective use of humour, to investigate the changing response to humour and assess whether humour works differently according to gender.