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How to inject humour into your marketing (including examples)

Humour is a marketing tactic that can elevate brands and form deep connections to potential customers, leading to business and sales growth.

Did you hear the one about the brand that poked fun at itself and its competitors in a pun-filled post on social media?

US burger joint Wendy’s started a thread on social media celebrating National Roast Day, and its competitor Hooters responded “Whatcha got?”

“Uniforms our employees can wear in winter,” was Wendy’s response. Oh, you heard that one already? Probably because it was a burn that has been shared thousands of times around the world.

Did you hear the one about the professional services firm that thought humour would make them look silly and not the serious professions they considered themselves to be. No? That’s not surprising.

Humour is a marketing tactic that can elevate brands and form deep connections to potential customers, leading to business and sales growth.

Here’s how to inject humour into your marketing:

Understand your audience

Anyone whoever dropped a clanger and wondered why, given the joke went down a treat when they told it last time, soon realises that humour is responded to differently by every audience.

A young audience, for example, might appreciate a bit of sass and enjoy consuming silly TikTok videos, whereas a professional, educated audience might enjoy a clever pun.

The key lies in understanding your audience, and knowing what they’ll best respond to.

Know your customers’ pain points

Every potential customer has an issue they are looking to resolve, and it’s our job as marketers to tell them how we can help them and why we are the best company to choose to do it.

Often, poking fun at an issue or making a light joke can really build rapport and trust.

The key is to be gentle and fun – go in too hard and the customer might think you are making fun of them or don’t take an issue as seriously as they do.

Banter with customers

Friendly, funny interactions with customers – and even competitors – can really pay off.

With customers, friendly banter can make them feel seen and engaged with in a friendly, fun way. Cheeky banter with a competitor on social media can soon go viral, and tells the world that while you’re a professional brand, you’re not above having a bit of a laugh.

UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s went viral a few years ago when it engaged in a pun-off with Marty Lawrence, a well-known X (formally Twitter) pun expert. Marty kicked things off when he tweeted at Sainsbury’s about being unable to buy a battered fish because it was missing a ‘bar cod’.

“Were there no other packs in the place, or was that the sole one on the shelf? Floundering for an explanation!” Sainsbury’s responded.

The thread continued and who knew there were so many fish puns?

Be irreverent

You need to be careful that this aligns with your brand values and personality, but being a bit edgy or weird can work, as McDonald’s recently found when it posted news that the Quarter Pounder burgers were now being made with majority fresh beef, only to be hit with a sassy clap-back by rival Wendy’s.

“So you still use frozen beef in MOST of your burgers in ALL of your restaurants? Asking for a friend,”

UK cold beverage company Innocent Drinks is known for its edgy humour, and poked fun at the British people’s love of complaining about the weather.


Humanise your brand

We see it all the time; customers don’t want to engage with faceless brands, they want to engage with people. And nothing tells people there are real humans behind a brand more than when it cracks a joke or slides a funny meme into their socials.

Humour not only tells people that your brand is human, it shows you as the best kind of human – one that we can relate to; one that makes us smile.

Old Spice really hit the spot with its Smell Like a Man, Man television advertisement that poked fun at traditional advertising of personal care products. An attractive, fit man was filmed in various situations (scantily clad in a bathroom, riding a horse on the beach) talking about how Old Spice will make your man more manly, all the time looking at the camera with an over-the-top searing, sexually charged expression.

The ad ridiculed traditional advertising tropes in a way a person would, not a brand. It resonated, and is still remembered as one of the funniest ads ever made.

Chat to the marketing experts who get the joke

Injecting humour into marketing is a delicate dance, hitting the sweet spot of entertaining audiences without causing offense or falling flat.

Assemblo is a full-service marketing agency based in Melbourne that understands the nuances of using humour in marketing and how to use it effectively.

To find out how we can help your business, give us a call on (03) 9079 2555 or send us a note via the contact form below.

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