The importance of comedy in viral advertising

This article explores the role comedy has to play in advertising; looking at the process of viral marketing and how comedy/humour can play a key role in attempts to make an advertisement “go viral.”

Comedy has become one of the staples of successful advertising in the last few decades and its successes (and failures) are increasingly being scrutinised to improve marketing techniques. In this article we’re going to examine the increasing importance of viral advertising techniques and demonstrate the effectiveness of humour in this realm.

Many of us are aware of the successes that humorous commercials and advertisements have both in terms of eliciting laugher and of sticking in our minds. A funny commercial has been shown time and time again to be one of the most powerful techniques in crating brand awareness and sales. A large part of this is thanks to the viral nature of successful and funny commercial advertising. The term viral is, in this context, used to denote the spread of a form of content across people through means that extend beyond the traditional advertising platforms. An advertisement by itself can be spread through media outlets, TV, print, billboards etc. A viral advertisement however has the added benefit of being spread by word of mouth and increasingly online. Having your advertisement spread in this way extends the reach dramatically of any advertising campaign and vastly increases the number of people exposed (hopefully favourably) to your brand. If your advertisement or commercial contains content that people want to talk about then you will have your message exposed to thousands of people your campaign might otherwise not reach. Online your commercial will be talked about on forums, in chat rooms and watched on social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook. Because of these incredible potential benefits more and more effort is being expended to attempt at making a marketing campaign go viral.

In the search for viral success humour has emerged as the very best way to make a marketing campaign go viral. A funny commercial or advertisement has the highest potential to be talked about widely by both targeted and diverse groups of people. The reason for this is simple – people want to talk about things that are funny. A funny commercial will be talked about at work, in leisure and online. In comparison people are much less likely to talk about other forms of advertising – say beauty or cars – as these have only limited conversational appeal. A group of people interested in cars may talk about the latest Audi advert but only within that group. Comedy therefore exercises the most potential viral power of any advertising technique. The task therefore remains for advertisers to make the most of this opportunity and ensure that their comedy hits the funny bone whilst still exposing customers to the product and the brand.

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