The Mirac­u­lous At­tributes of Hu­mour

ArabAd - - COVER STORY -

When it comes to hu­mour, there still ex­ists no agree­ment on a gen­eral the­ory, how­ever, the mech­a­nisms that gov­ern hu­mour are well doc­u­mented.

Ac­cord­ing to Mark Le­vitt, man­ag­ing part­ner of Part­ners & Levit Ad­ver­tis­ing, many of the most mem­o­rable ad cam­paigns around tend to be funny. How­ever, the key lies in as­sur­ing the hu­mour is ap­pro­pri­ate to both prod­uct and cus­tomer. Au­di­ences like to be en­ter­tained, but not pitched. Peo­ple will pay more at­ten­tion to a hu­mor­ous com­mer­cial than a fac­tual or se­ri­ous one, open­ing them­selves up to be in­flu­enced. How­ever, the bal­ance be­tween funny and ob­nox­ious can of­ten be del­i­cate; and a mar­keter must be cer­tain the pos­i­tive ef­fects out­weigh the neg­a­tive be­fore an ad­ver­tise­ment can be in­tro­duced.

The best prod­ucts to sell us­ing hu­mour are those con­sumers have to think the least about, are rel­a­tively in­ex­pen­sive, and of­ten con­sum­able, be­cause they can be rep­re­sented with­out pro­vid­ing a lot of facts, thereby leav­ing room for hu­mour.

Ad­ver­tis­ing of this kind tends to im­prove brand recog­ni­tion, but does not im­prove prod­uct re­call, mes­sage cred­i­bil­ity, or buy­ing in­ten­tions. In other words, con­sumers may be fa­mil­iar with and have good feel­ings to­wards the prod­uct, but their pur­chas­ing de­ci­sions will prob­a­bly not be af­fected. One of the ma­jor keys to a suc­cess­ful hu­mor­ous cam­paign is va­ri­ety. Once a com­mer­cial starts to wear out there's no sav­ing it with­out some vari­a­tion on the con­cept. Hu­mor­ous cam­paigns are of­ten ex­pen­sive be­cause they have to be con­stantly changed. Ad­ver­tis­ers must re­mem­ber that while mak­ing the cus­tomer laugh, they have to keep things in­ter­est­ing, be­cause old jokes die along with their prod­ucts.

The use of hu­mour has be­come com­mon prac­tice in ad­ver­tis­ing, yet the out­come of re­search into the ef­fi­cacy of such a tool re­mains in­con­clu­sive high­light­ing the need to ap­ply hu­mour with care, since it by no means guar­an­tees bet­ter ads. How­ever, its ef­fect can be en­hanced with care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion of the ob­jec­tives one seeks to achieve as well as the au­di­ence, sit­u­a­tion, and type of hu­mour.

The first defini­tive in­stance of mass me­dia ad­ver­tis­ing in English was an ad printed in the Weekly News in 1625. About a cen­tury later, Bri­tish born Ge­orge Pack­wood who pri­mar­ily sold ra­zor straps, de­cided to dis­tin­guish his brand, by en­ter­tain­ing his au­di­ence us­ing slo­gans, jokes, and sto­ries in his ads. Yet the first pe­ri­od­i­cal ad to fea­ture a hu­mor­ous il­lus­tra­tion is at­trib­uted to War­ren’s Shoe Black­ing in 1820 and is con­sid­ered a mile­stone of print ad­ver­tis­ing.

Al­most 200 years on, this in­dis­pens­able tool has gone through many al­ter­ations with the evo­lu­tion of tech­nol­ogy backed by crafty copy­writ­ing.

Look­ing back at the con­tent cre­ated for brands us­ing hu­mour leads us to con­clude that this ap­proach is more of a ‘para­dox­i­cal’ art form due to its abil­ity to el­e­vate if suc­cess­fully in­cor­po­rated, or de­stroy when wrongly ex­e­cuted. As a re­sult, guar­an­tee­ing a spe­cific out­come when em­ployed is elu­sive at best driv­ing ad­ver­tis­ers and clients to take se­ri­ous heed and in most cases, play it safe.

A good ex­am­ple of a hu­mor­ous ad gone bad is the cam­paign the Le­banese Lot­tery cre­ated in part­ner­ship with Im­pact BBDO Dubai. Launched in 2015, the cam­paign was de­signed to ef­fec­tively en­cour­age peo­ple in Le­banon to play more and win big by mak­ing them feel luck­ier. To bring that luck back, a re­verse strat­egy was used, namely that of gath­er­ing all stray black cats, which the Le­banese be­lieve to be a bad omen and fly them out of the coun­try. The hash­tag #Good­bye­bad­luck was cre­ated invit­ing peo­ple to call a num­ber if they come across a black cat, which may en­ti­tle them for a re­ward. Work­ing in as­so­ci­a­tion with mu­nic­i­pal­ity of­fi­cers, the med­i­cal coun­cil and an­i­mal care, Loto Libanais ar­ranged for the cats to be flown to New Zealand for a VIP treat­ment, where the an­i­mals are be­lieved to bring good luck.

How­ever, the whole thing fell apart when an­i­mal lovers jumped to de­fend black cats and raised nu­mer­ous ob­jec­tions against what they con­sid­ered a taste­less­ly­of­fense ad that harms all an­i­mal lovers

Le­banese Lot­tery's #Good­bye­bad­luck TVC

War­ren’s Shoe Black­ing

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