Should I use humor in advertising?


Broadly speaking, funny ads are more likely to be memorable than others. Almost half of the world's most impactful ads are humorous; whereas just 1 percent of the least impactful ads are humorous. Furthermore, humor is an emotional response, and much has been written on the importance of emotional responses to advertising.

But the effect of humor on communication is not so straightforward.

Certainly, humor can aid effective communication. For example, one ad we tested was criticized for being boring and irritating, with a joke that was just not funny. Enjoyment was below average. Our recommendation was that there was much in the ad that did work well, but that the ad needed more original humor. A new version was produced which included a more original joke at the beginning of the ad; but the final 15 seconds, in which the benefits of the advertised service were described, were not changed at all. The enjoyment rating improved, and so did the communication levels. The improved humor was resulting in more attention being paid to the ad overall.