The funny side of brand awareness

Brand awareness is the keystone to any marketing plan; it is through drawing attention to your brand that the faceless populace out there sees you. There are a variety of avenues to explore including PR, eventing, TV, radio, print, social media and more.

A great way to attract and keep customers engaged is through humour, a tried and tested method IF it is done correctly. Everyone enjoys a good giggle and more so if it’s current and topical. Think Nando’s. Yes, I see you smiling there!

Think of how you feel when you’ve had a good laugh, when your tummy muscles ache and your face is sore from the exertion of merriment. That’s the flood of serotonin swarming through your system, making you feel good. Nice feeling hmm?

The challenge with humour, online or off, is that it is received very differently depending on a variety of reasons, from culture, gender, age and language skills. That’s why dear Mr Bean was so successful in his day. He was an endearingly stupid savant with whom, we dared not admit, we identified on some deep level. He didn’t speak, so language wasn’t an issue and therefore internationally accessible immediately, and his hammed acting left no space for misinterpretation, from Cossacks to Celts. His message was clear, and his audience entranced, hanging on every move, grunt or distorted facial expression.

There is a very fine line to walk when using humour as a marketing tool however, as there is the real risk of creating offence — more so in this highly sensitised politically-correct environment that we find ourselves in over the past couple of years. Race, religion, gender, physical proportions, sexual preferences, physical or mental challenges, hair colour or texture, financial status (or lack thereof), parenting, political censorship et al, the list is infinite and a veritable minefield for those in the creative space.

Clever language/copy is the first port of call but can run the risk of being ‘lost in translation’ if an international brand is running a campaign across diverse countries and audiences and, so too images can be up for misinterpretation. You want your customers/viewers to at least smile when they read your cleverly crafted copy, slogan or tag line, or your wittily drawn or photographed image, not frown in misunderstanding or worse, scoff and dismiss it.

That’s why Nando’s is so clever. It’s topical, current, irreverent and best of all, people can’t wait for the ‘next one’ and to share it with their network, whether verbally (word of mouth or WOMM marketing is the motherload when it comes to advertising) or via social media posts.

Successfully crafted humour is a skill that can jettison your brand to the front of your customers’ mind and leave them replaying it continuously, like an ‘ear worm’. You know, like when a tune gets stuck in your head and you cannot dislodge it? Well, good humour is like that; and even better if your audience wants to share it with their network of friends or followers.

Have a look here at some marketing campaigns that failed. Not all were around humour, but many of the sensitive issues mentioned above sounded the death knell to the campaigns.

20 of the Biggest Marketing Fails of All Time (and Why They Sucked)

Well-placed and thought-out humour can get brands laughing all the way to the bank, so consider this as part of your awareness strategy when you devise your marketing plan. But be careful how you present it, as the last laugh could be on you!

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