Making consumers laugh can help marketers bond with audiences and gain their attention, but joking may make buyers take them less seriously, recent research finds. So what products and services are served best by funny marketing?
A study, with marketing professor Caleb Warren as lead author, examines whether humor helps humans reach their goals. Summarized in PsychCentral on March 24 by Janice Wood, it says of marketing conversions and other sought outcomes:
Cracking a joke can help capture attention, but it also can make a message seem less important, the researchers warn.
One notable conclusion from the study is that the effects of comedy production depend on the type of joke people tell, as well as whether the joke actually makes an audience laugh.
Teasing and telling insulting jokes are less likely to help people cope with loss or navigate an awkward social interaction than joking about the weather or creating an amusing pun.
But even jokes about the weather and puns won’t help if no one laughs, the researchers conclude.
So the main conclusion is if marketers aren’t funny, their “humor” has no chance of achieving their goals. And if they joke, they may need to be ready to be considered goofy by consumers. Depending on the context, certain marketers may want to steer clear of joviality. (Opens as a PDF)
So maybe humor in marketing is best for silly products, like “Deadpool 2”?
On March 22, the day the movie studio released the first full-length trailer for the film, Eonline.com wrote about the sequel’s self-mocking marketing:
The marketing campaign is appropriately irreverent. Take, for example, the studio's logline for the film: "After surviving a near fatal bovine attack, a disfigured cafeteria chef (Wade Wilson) struggles to fulfill his dream of becoming Mayberry's hottest bartender while also learning to cope with his lost sense of taste. Searching to regain his spice for life, as well as a flux capacitor, Wade must battle ninjas, the yakuza and a pack of sexually aggressive canines, as he journeys around the world to discover the importance of family, friendship and flavor — finding a new taste for adventure and earning the coveted coffee mug title of World's Best Lover." Expect nothing less from the movie studio "that brought you ‘27 Dresses’ and ‘The Devil Wears Prada.’ "
As of presstime yesterday, just this version of the trailer housed on YouTube had more than 27 million views.
The research — “Humor, Comedy and Consumer Behavior” that ran in the March 6 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research — further defines humor and consumers’ expected outcomes when partaking in the funny. As Wood writes:
• Hedonic goals (maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain),
• Utilitarian goals (optimizing long-term well-being) and
• Social goals (getting along with others).
The researchers argue that humor appreciation — laughter and amusement — helps people feel better by making positive experiences, such as watching a movie or dining at a restaurant, more pleasant. It also makes negative experiences, such as going to the dentist or waiting in line, less unpleasant.
Target Marketing welcomes comments from put-upon, fun dentists, as well as other unfairly classified, thoroughly delightful professionals. What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.
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