Humor Marketing: Leveraging Laughter in Your Ads

Humor is a timeless hook. We know it works because the punchline comes at the end of a joke. This means an audience is already captivated prior to the heavy hit of hilarity (when a joke is done right), a testament to comedy's strength. Humor marketing fuses comedy and information together, not skimping on the stats but not bogging you down with them either.

If you're like me, you skip an ad the second you're allowed to. YouTube videos in particular come to mind. However, on rare occasions, I let the ad play. That's when I know an ad has succeeded.


"Real Men Do Laundry"

The most recent ad that kept me from abusing the skip feature was Tru Earth's eco-strips laundry detergent commercial. I watched all three minutes of it. Why? Because it surprised and educated me as well as made me chuckle.

I'm not a huge comedy fan, but I couldn't help but wonder where the ad was going when it began by reversing gender roles, a caricatured husband with a comic voice addressing the audience about laundry while his wife read on the couch behind him. Intriguing.


Leaning into silliness

The ad is goofy, the humor elementary at times, but there's something oddly refreshing about that.


People gravitate toward humor for a reason. It's light, easy, and most of all, it provides an escape from the many stressors of life. (This is not to be said for all expressions of humor, of course.)


Our main actor rips off his shirt like Superman at one point, revealing a "real men do laundry" tee. And at the end of the ad, he teases that a baby turtle gets to go to college with every click to purchase (before having “legal '' come in to strike that from the script). This criticizes the commercials that exaggerate and make impossible promises, thereby boosting the audience’s trust in Tru Earth.


Funny but factual

Tru Earth's ad may feel more like a skit than anything, but its cause is clear and it lays out relevant stats.


The commercial anticipates people arguing that they don't need to switch to eco strips because they recycle their plastic detergent bottles by having its leading man say:


"'Oh no, no, no. I put all my recyclables in the recycling bin.' I hate to ruin the mood, but 75% of the content in your recycling bin is rejected at the recycling plant, which heads straight to the landfill."


Following the shocking-for-some stat is an animated bottle saying, "But I'm going to be a bicycle some day." It cleverly and humorously addresses our misconceptions of recycling.

Humor makes hopeless stats palatable.


Humor marketing subverts the norm

Let's return to the attention-grabbing gender role reversal aspect of the commercial. Tru Earth pokes fun at our concept of masculinity and being "manly" while delivering more eco stats.


In one instance, the narrator says, in reference to the plastic detergent bottles, "Who has time to wait 450 years for this junk to decompose? No, I'd rather be doing something manly, like pre-sorting the whites, darks, and oh, so delicates."


Sorting laundry is not what most would deem a "manly" activity. The gender subversion threaded through the ad kept me engaged, among the other things we've discussed.


Use humor marketing to hook customers and hold their attention as they wait for the punchline(s), absorbing your informational messaging along the way.


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