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The Science of Humour in Marketing

Updated: Dec 6, 2022

Commercial advertisements can be annoying sometimes, everyone loves to watch well-made and funny advertisements. According to a survey conducted by the review firm, Clutch, it is observed that over half of the consumers say they are most likely to remember and enjoy an advertisement if it’s funny. Humor shows an extremely effective and important effect when it comes to digital marketing, yet it is also something that is complicated to handle.

You might ask: what exactly makes something funny? With reference to the Benign Violation Theory, humor is something that must be accepted by social norms and relatively harmless to make us laugh.

Some common approaches to the use of humor in marketing are provided below for a better understanding. Read to find out more!

1. Advertisement with memes

Memes are entertaining images, videos or short texts that are humorous in nature. They can grab attention from customers and create noises for brands, it is essential for companies to take advantage of current trending memes and the recent hot topic before it becomes a passing fad. Using memes to create humorous content can show the customers that the company is up to date, understand their customers well and bring customers closer together.

Take reference from Very, a British online retailer, they post memes on their Instagram account regularly to engage with their customers. In this post, customers can relate their personal experience to the meme.

Another example from Totino's, they love using memes to advertise their products. The meme below is a derived work of the viral meme of Bernie Sanders sitting social distant in US President Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony.

2. Movie reference in advertising

Iconic movie characters or scenes have rooted a strong image in audiences’ minds. If the product the company is selling matches any representative movie character or scene, this might be a smart way to promote your product.

For example, MTN Dew used a reference from the most iconic scene from the horror movie “The Shining”, and recreated it into a humorous advertisement. The original movie featured this horrific “here’s Johnny” scene where the main character, Johnny, was using a hammer to kill his wife. MTN Dew used the same scene where the actor was taking a hammer to ask his wife to try MTN Dew drink. Audiences might be expecting a creepy advertisement when first seeing the adaptation of the scene from “The Shining”, however, the plot twists from horror to humour surprise audiences with something new and unexpected.

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To add on, All-Electric Cadillac LYRIQ promotes their product, hand free car, by using a reference of the movie, Edward Scissorhands. In the movie, Edward is a synthetic man with scissor hands, he faces many struggles in daily life because of his uniqueness. The use of this reference in the Cadillac advertisement is to emphasise that their hand free car is suitable to all types of people, even the most iconic, Edward Scissorhands.

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3. Be bold and bizarre

Afraid to be bold? Worry that your ideas in your head will be unacceptable to customers or too weird for them to handle? The truth is, customers are bored of the typical shampoo advertisement featuring an actress flexing their hair and reading out the features of the products, they want something new and intriguing. A successful quirky advertisement can grab attention and impress your audiences, so go ahead and break the rules, you might be able to get an unexpected result.

In this advertisement, IKEA showed an astounding approach to promote their baby crib, they asked their customers to pee on their magazine, if their customers are pregnant, a red discounted price will appear. Customers who are pregnant and did the test can enjoy a discounted price for the baby crib.

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Speaking of bizarreness, I think we can all agree that Japanese advertisements have the most impressively funny and weird advertisements. Take Tsuruya Co.'s kawara roof tiles advertisement as an example, the advertisement featured a bunch of men holding hands and sticking together under extreme weathers. The advertisement is promoting the high durability of their company's roof tiles, which can withstand all the extreme weather, such as earthquakes, typhoons and fire break. This advertisement even won the Cannes Silver Lion 2017 in the Film TV/Cinema Film category for Household Goods, Home Appliances & Furnishings category, showing a huge success.

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4. Self depreciation

Self deprecation is an interesting approach for creating promotional content, making fun of the iconic feature of one's own brand can make customers feel that the company is easy going and has a good sense of humor. This playful approach of advertising gives customers a good laugh and attracts them to keep watching.

Carlsberg is famous for its self depreciating ads. In the "Communicate" ad series, Carlsberg used the bad comments of their brand they received on Twitter and gave them a little twist by changing the wordings. This approach successfully created noise for their new product and also increased their brand awareness.

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The actor, Adam Driver, is always mocked by netizens for having a “horse face”. In this minute long advertisement, Adam Driver is running with a horse and turns into a centaur in the end. The advertisement is praised by many as Adam Driver makes fun of himself yet not losing the sophisticated and high fashioned brand positioning Burberry has maintained.

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No one hates a funny advertisement, especially under this hard time, humour in advertising can be powerful and is a smart approach and leaves a strong impression in audiences’ minds. Being humorous requires far less effort than you might think, follow the above methods for an easy way!

Stay tuned for Allua’s next blog for digital marketing content! Explore our site and contact us for multi-media marketing solutions.


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