Advertising is about getting attention. The best ways to get attention with advertising are with strong visuals, sex, powerful headlines, and humor.
Humor in advertising is a delicate method of attracting a viewer's/listener's attention to the client's product. Done right, it achieves success. Doing it right means not only engaging the prospect but getting them to remember the product.
On a national level who can forget the vodafone zoo zoos and happy dent's out-of-the-box Kingdom of Lights campaign featuring Happy Dent White’s smile powers Indian city lights.
Vodafone Zoozoo’s were launched during the IPL season by Oglivy & Mather, India which had also created the famous Vodafone (formerly Hutch pug). 25 zoozoo commercials released each day till the end of IPL season 2.
The making of Zoozoo Ads were popular email forwards at that time. None of the actors could see as they were covered head to toe. The shadows were created by spray painting. Though they appear like tiny creatures an average human’s head would reach only upto the mouth of a Zoozoo. The thin limbs were contrasted with big bellies and huge egg heads to create the “small creatures” illusion.
Funniness is generally used within publicity nowadays whether this is on radio, in newspapers, or on TV as part of daily advertising communications campaigns. TV marketing tells most of its stories in thirty second periods.
With such short time frame to communicate a message across, advertisers have used humour as a way of breaking through the noise and clutter in an attempt to grab the attention of the viewer. Feelings evoked through the use of humour can also lead brand positive associations, as well as increasing the comprehension levels of the viewer.
Advertising humor also needs to be well suited to its audience. If your customers don’t get the joke, then the joke will be on you. A sophisticated audience will understand your irony, satire, and puns, but a young audience may only understand slapstick comedy or a silly cartoon caricature. Inside jokes can be effective if the recipient understands that it was done for them, but nobody else will get it.
Humour can come in many forms and the choice of the appropriate type is highly dependent on the target audience, the cultural bias, the choice of advertising medium and the product itself. Some of the more popularly used forms are:
• Personification: This is where inanimate objects assume human characteristics and the inherent humour in observing such behaviour is used to highlight some quality or the desirability of the brand.
One such example is Pepsi’s ‘Oye Bubbly’ campaign in which various objects such as the car stereo and the garage are shown coveting the Pepsi bottle.
• Exaggeration: Here certain attributes of the product are magnified out of proportion like the Fevikwik ads where the fisherman uses Fevikwik on a stick to catch fish, trumping the sophisticated fishing gear of the person next to him.
• Slapstick: This particular brand of humour deals with the ludicrous/exaggerated and presents situations where the humorous aspect of the ad, far from being subtle, strikes the viewer in the face, the Chlormint ads being a prime example of this.
Axe is by far the naughtiest brand in India and is targeted at the male aged 16-25. The ads highlight various situations where the guy, usually an ordinary next door neighbour kind of chap rather than a hunk, gets pursued by different women. Seduction is the dominant motif here, with the women making the first move – a bold idea for Indian audiences. Yet, it has captured the pulse of its target audience perfectly.
Despite humour being an effective mechanism for drawing attention, it is crucial for advertisers to find the appropriate type of humour for the appropriate product in order to ensure success. Attention is enhanced if the type of humour used is directly related to the product that is being promoted, therefore increasing advertising effectiveness.
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