The ROI of a Laugh: How to Use Humor in Marketing

A joke is never as funny if you have to spell it out, but in this case we're dissecting a couple of well thought out marketing campaigns that do a great job of using humor.

Purple Mattress

I know it sounds a little funny to use a mattress company as an example of humor in marketing, but it's seriously one of the first brands that comes to mind when this topic is presented. If you've never seen any of their commercials, I highly suggest doing so. They're clever and present some really interesting characterizations. They create a storyline within a short time frame while also providing all of the information needed regarding their products.

One of their more popular commercials is centered around Goldilocks, their expert bed tester. In three minutes she easily explains how the raw egg test simulates where pressure is distributed throughout the body during sleep all while providing hilarious commentary. The information sticks because her characterization is perfect for this skit and the information provided isn't too detailed. Another example of this is their commercial featuring a Sasquatch mother who is fed up with lower-quality mattress toppers. The entire commercial is one continuous joke that sprinkles an appropriate amount of information throughout. One of my favorite lines, which I'm sure others will love is "Other toppers turn your bed crinkly or stiff and they make your mattress noisy, hot, and uncomfortable. Like a Nickelback concert." One-liners like these are abundant and absolutely get the point across that Purple Mattress is unlike the competition. The company truly knows what will hit home for their consumers and uses that to their advantage. 

Denny's

Sometimes it can be difficult to produce content for platforms like Twitter. You only get so many characters and therefore you really need to hit home with the content quickly. Denny's is a fantastic example of a company that is using humor in social media effectively. If you've not read their Twitter feed then I implore you to do so. You will NOT be disappointed!

The majority of their content is quippy and entertaining with useful information divvied throughout. This brand is so successful because their tweets are so incredibly relatable. How many times have you thought about something - THOUGHT, not searched for or even talked about - and seen a targeted ad for it relatively soon thereafter? I can tell you it's happened to me on several occasions. Denny's caught on to this and replied with: "the reason you see our ads so often in because we can read your mind. You think about your ex and pancakes a lot." This is too funny, and way too real. It makes followers interested in their content, so as they follow along with the hilarity they wind up seeing deals being promoted. It seems so casual, but it works into consumers' feed perfectly. Bravo, Denny's!

Anheuser-Busch

Philly, Philly! Need I say more? This was one of the most prevalent marketing campaigns of the year - and for good reason. Anheuser-Busch listened to their consumers and played off of their interests. With Game of Thrones being one of the most popular shows on television right now, Bud Light created a campaign with a series of commercials that mimic the medieval setting found on the show and gave it a humorous undertone.

One example focuses on a man who escapes a treacherous dungeon to come back carrying a case of Bud Light. When another prisoner questions his decision to return, everyone else cries out in protest because they all want their favorite brew. The brand took it a step further when the Eagles not only made it into the Super Bowl, but won. The series continued with the king announcing that "The injury gods threw mud at you, but the perseverance gods wiped you off and patted your behind. So for you, I'll say it only once: Philly Philly." Playing off of the pride of Philadelphia fans shows that Anheuser-Busch understands their demographic and gives us another reason to love this fan favorite.

It can be difficult to use humor in marketing. Sometimes campaigns focus too much on trying to be funny and lose sight of the fact that they're still trying to sell something. It's a fine line, but the call to action and supporting information need to be present and highlighted. Take the lead of these brands and listen to your audience, be relatable, and do what's right for your brand.