Humour In Advertising

Humour has the ability to make communication strategies amusing or funny to its’ audience. Having a sense of humour provides benefits, such as; energy and obtaining a sense of well being through the stimulus of chemicals, such as endorphins and adrenaline. (Bergeron & Vachon 2008)

The Atlantic raise the question as to why advertisers use humour within their advertising. They then answered the question with this statement, “The first trick of advertisement is to make people pay attention. Funny ads attract attention”. They also ask us, to ask ourselves, “To what extent are the videos we share via social networks funny”? I know for me, the statistic wouldn’t be far from 100%. They suggest that a further benefit of humour is that if you have already watched the video, you are more likely to be happy to watch it again, compared to a non-humorous advertisement. I know that I often share humorous content with the caption “ Found it again!” to share with my friends on Facebook. (Hollis 2011)

Humour can be used to attract consumers’ attention, and if developed well, it can be effective in influencing attitudes. This attitude is aimed to then transition from merely the humorous advertisement, to the overall brand.

Often, the aim of humorous advertisement is to create viral marketing. Marketers often end up being ‘over-funny’ which either results in an un-funny advertisement, or the message gets lost due to the audience focusing on the funny aspects, and forgetting the brand. I know that I am often trying to explain a hilarious advertisement to my classmates and find myself not being able to name which brand produced it, and having to Google the attributes to find the answer.

When using the reinforcement perspective, humour becomes effective when it is tied closely to the offering. (Madden & Weinberger 1986)

Earlier this year I worked with Budweiser at a Super Bowl event and actually enjoyed the advertisement more than the half time show. My favourite was First Date by Hyundai with their hilarious advertisement, promoting the new Hyundai Genesis starring Kevin Heart, which depicts a protective Dad stalking his daughter’s date, thanks to the “Car Finder” feature accessible via the Blue Link application on his smart watch. (Keihm 2016 & Hyundai USA 2016)

The father is able to sabotage and watch over his daughter with the GPS feature, and humour is used to gain the attention of the audience. In this instance, the advertisement is tied closely to the offering.

I found this hilarious as it reminded me of my father’s attitude towards my first date, and I am sure that many other women and fathers felt the same. I feel as though the advertisement had excellent brand recall and recognition, which essentially results in a successful advertisement.


  • Bergeron, J & Vachon, M.A 2008, The Effects of Humour Usage by Financial Advisors in Sales Encounters, International Journal of Bank Marketing, vol.26, pp. 376-98.
  • Hollis, N 2011, Why Funny TV Commercials Work, viewed 6th May 2016,
  • Hyundai USA 2016, First Date- Hyundai Super Bowl Commercial, YouTube, viewed 6th May 2016,
  • Keihm, M 2016, WATCH: Kevin Hart Super Bowl Commercial Hyundai Genesis ‘First Date’, Heavy, viewed 6th May 2016.
  • Madden & Weinberger 1986, Effective Television Advertising, Humour in Advertising, Lexington.

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