What to Keep in Mind When Using Humor in Your Marketing 

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“Use humor in your marketing!” 

“Connect to your potential customers with laughter for a stronger emotional connection!” 

If you read enough articles about improving your online marketing, you’ve probably come across those sentiments many times. 

I thought about this when I came across this article about Super Bowl marketing. 

This one quote really jumped out at me. “Some brands (in their commercials) will take a path around humor. That’s certainly long associated with the Super Bowl; however, I do think it takes on a bit of new risk at this particular moment. On the one hand, it could provide levity and some form of comfort… and on the other hand, it could be perceived as obviously not appropriate to the moment.” 

That quote is correct. 

However, utilizing humor properly is a great way to market your business. 

That said, you might be wondering: “how do I find the laughter in garden shears?” Or aluminum siding, or personal injury law, or whatever it is that your business does. 

There really isn’t enough space in this blog to give you a specific example for each industry. But, one thing I can tell you that’s important about using humor in your marketing: identifying the right target. 

When I say that, I don’t mean “target audience” (even though that’s important) but rather, the “target” of the humor itself. It’s something we certainly do at our full-service digital marketing and reputation management company. 



A New Way to Ask: “Who’s the Target?” 


At the risk of getting too deep into comedy theory and joke structure, every joke has a “target.” The “target” is someone who is “being made fun of,” for lack of a better phrase. This is just true in just about every instance of humor you can imagine. 

It’s easy to see in political humor, as one politician, party, or cause is “the target.” You can even see this in “knock-knock” jokes. 

Sometimes, it’s not a person, but a concept, or an assumption that the audience has made. One example I always enjoyed were the Old Spice ads with the centaur. Here, the “target” of the joke wasn’t a person exactly, but rather, the audience’s expectations as to what an advertisement for a product like Old Spice should be. 

The best way to “provide levity and some form of comfort” that are “perceived as appropriate to the moment” is to pick a target that your audience would be OK with. Or, another possibility, engaging with that target in a sensitive way. 



An Example 


To come up with an example off of the top of my head, imagine a company that sells juice. They want to use humor in their marketing. But, they don’t want to be insensitive. 

An “insensitive” version might be something that shows a family struggling to drink juice around masks, or picking brief occasions to take their masks off to drink the juice. 

Sure, that could be funny. But, it has a high risk of being insensitive because “the target” could only be seen as masks/being safe/the people who wear masks. 

However, another way of doing it that could be showing a parent doing everything they can to get their family juice. 

Maybe they buy as much juice as possible to ensure that their family always has it. We see them waiting in line, putting it in the attic, the basement, and more just so there’s always some juice. 

That amount of effort, the sheer amount of juice could be very funny. Moreover, the “target” here is a far more acceptable one: the juice itself. It’s funny to see someone do so much to have something that’s largely inconsequential to survival (yet, can be very important to the quality of life). People can sympathize with this, it’s much softer than the prior example. 

If you can pick a good target and engage with it in the right way, there’s no limit to how you can use humor in your marketing. 

For help with this or anything else related to growing your business online, you can reach our full-service digital marketing and reputation management team at (888) 477-9540.