That was funny, but what was the brand again?

“Your sense of humour is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.

~ Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D


          Humour? According to the definition this is the quality of being amusing or comic, especially as expressed in literature or speech. But it’s not that simple. Several typologies have been developed to categorise humour. It’s interesting to discover that humour could be very different from cultures but it’s international as well; an American and an African could easily laugh at the same joke.

I choose this subject because after the shooting in Paris at Charlie Hebdo’s office, I still have many discussions about humour. How should we manage with humour? How humour affects people? Companies? Remember the morning of 7 January, two brothers killed 11 people because they have been affected about a caricature from the satiric journal. To respond to this shooting, some people said, “the terrorists simply have no sense of humour ”. To me, that’s not a smart comment. Humour could be a great thing and a company should use it but humour could be dangerous and delicate. Even if Charlie Hebdo is an extreme case, it’s still interesting to think about brand communication about humour. How a brand could deliver a message properly by using humour?

Brand and humour could be related very easily, for example a study from my article ” That was funny, but what was the brand again” examine the effects humour complexity and humour relatedness in humorous television commercials. It talks about “brand linkage”, it’s the ability to connect the right brand to an advertisement. Brand linkage is calculated by dividing the percentage of people who can name the right brand behind a commercial by the percentage of people who claim to have seen the commercial. Indeed a brand needs to create emotions; interest from their customers and companies understood it. Attention, comprehension and memory are some keywords for success and humour is definitely a magic ingredient .We cannot deny that humour plays a prominent role in advertising. But using humour is not easy at all; a company needs a lot of reflexion before applying it.

First question, do you think that this video is funny?

Like I said before using humour is not easy. Even the title of my article is relevant “ That was funny, but what was the brand again?” It means that using humour is not efficient all the time. For example different advertising failed after using humour. “ The effects of humour on subsequent cognitive processes involving comprehension and memory appear to be less straightforward”. Cline et al (2003) insist that humour may hinder people’s acquisition of relevant information from advertising.

When I see this advertising for the Super Bowl , I would say: Humour kills humour. What do you think?

Today, more than ever before, viewers in Youtude especially decide for themselves whether or not they want to watch commercials. The use of humour seems a promising way to positively influence that decision. But it’s interesting to think about the results from different studies, which compared the relationship between humour and brand linkage.

H1 predicted that brand linkage would be stronger in the case of high-complexity humour than in the case of low-complexity humour. H2 predicted higher brand linkage scores in case of related humour in the case of unrelated humour. Analysis covariance (ANCOVA) tested both and didn’t support any of them. However it said that there would be an interaction effect between humour complexity and humour relatedness on brand linkage. I have to admit I have been surprised by the results. Do you?

To conclude I would say that the effectiveness of a humorous commercial depends on a complexity of variables. The most important thing is the way the humorous elements are incorporated into the commercial, it’s not the humour itself. To me, I first taught that humour is always beneficial, of course in daily life but in advertising as well, I changed my mind ( but only for the advertising). Humour may both positively and negatively affects commercials’ chances of brand linkage.

“That was funny, but what wad the brand again?” from Paul van Kuilenburg, Menno D.T de Jong and Thomas J.L van Rompay. Institure for Behavioral Research, University of Twente.

Aside | This entry was posted in Branding in social media, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to That was funny, but what was the brand again?

  1. lucianijdam2015 says:

    Very interesting and original subject! When a company decides to use humor in its advertising it first should find out what kind of humor its target customers like. However, I believe that humor is something very personal and therefore it can be very challenging and risky for a company to implement humor in its advertisements. But on the other hand, when a company succeeds in having a humorous advertisement this can bring the company a lot of benefits since customers will be more likely to remember the brand because of the funny advertisement. But as the title of your blogpost says ‘That was funny, but what was the brand again?’, a funny advertisement is not always positive since the humor may overrule the main purpose of the advertisement. Overall I believe that using humor to promote a brand can be a useful but also a challenging and risky tool.

  2. charlesrupin says:

    Great approach to begin with such a quote ! Also, the parallel with Charlie Hebdo’s attacks is a very sad but a relevant example of how humor is perceived differently by individuals. How brands use humor to appeal customers is really interesting subject, moreover, the fact that you use videos to illustrate your words is very relevant.

    To my mind, humor remains a strong tool for brands to advertise according to a certain universality of that way to communicate. Even if humor has that strenghth, it is important to be careful and try to respect everyone and each culture that has its own perception of that art.

  3. [G.] says:

    That is an interesting topic when you connect humor and brand. It reminds me of a very famous comedian in my country at the moment. He is famous for his sense of humor, but with his own style when on stage. Though there is lots of comedians, he stands out with intelligent humor and humanity behind his own plays. He also is famous for other roles , like an MC, a singer, but is always recognized with smart humor. He is popular with all the audiences and I would call that is “branding”.

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