Humor in marketing can be a successful strategy. It can get people talking more about your brand, it can increase engagement on social media, and it can ultimately help increase sales.
But using humor in poor taste can leave a huge dent in your reputation and can bring an overall negative outlook to your brand.
If you want to use humor in your marketing strategy, you must consider the following three questions first
Does humor make sense for your industry?
For example, if you are trying to sell medical supplies, there isn’t much room to joke around about that, nor would it be appropriate to do so.
There are more professional, “boring”, industries that can use humor, but it truly depends on the type of company it is and what they sell or do.
Will your audience understand your humor?
If your target audience is millennials, they are probably more drawn to humorous posts with memes.
If your target audience is businessmen; however, they probably won’t take you seriously and are more likely to not trust you.
What kind of humor do you want to use?
Based on your industry and audience, you need to decide the type of humor that will work best for your brand.
Does it make more sense for you to use witty, intelligent humor? Or how about lighthearted puns? Decide what type of humor will resonate the most with your audience and be consistent with your tone and voice.
Many top brands are conquering social media with their unforgettable funny tweets and posts.
Here are three brands who are owning their sense of humor.
Many brands can’t get away with being straight up, publicly savage towards their competitors. But Wendy’s goes against the grain by discretely, yet very obviously burning their fast food counterparts.
They like to dig at McDonald’s quite often for the fact that they use frozen beef, while Wendy’s slogan is “fresh, never frozen”.
For example, Wendy’s acknowledged National Frozen Food Day by subtweeting McDonald’s to humorously shade them.
Wendy’s also likes to take advantage of trends and pop culture and finds clever ways to tie it into their acts of savagery.
For instance, they grasped the opportunity of jumping aboard the continuous conversation on the highly popular show Game of Thrones by subtly yet not so subtly throwing shade at Burger King.
Why It Works
The fast food industry is such a competitive market, that companies need to find creative ways to stand out. Humor is a smart method for these companies because it helps to reflect the fun, laid back environment they set for their customers.
The competitive nature of this industry also means that a lot of the humor used makes playful jabs at other companies.
While many other fast food establishments use humor in their marketing, Wendy’s ranks at the top of the social media fast food chain due to their quick wit and engaging content.
Netflix’s social media game is strong in memes, relatable content, and humorous pop culture references.
They are actively funny on their social media accounts while also active in replying to people’s questions and concerns with remarkable customer service.
They have nontraditional ways to advertise their original series and movies, along with everything else they have to offer. Instead of simply promoting, they take the latest internet slang and memes to advertise.
When Beyoncé’s concert film, Homecoming, came to Netflix, they took advantage of the extreme popularity of the musical “queen” by using a meme. The meme plays on the humorous idea that Beyoncé fans are in awe of every single thing she does.
Netflix also likes to talk about older, classic movies and TV shows by tying them into the current day.
For instance, they created this meme out of the relatable frustration that people had with Noah and Allie’s communication problems in The Notebook. They tied it into the current age by showing how the main characters could have communicated way better if they had cell phones to text each other.
201.3k Likes, 1,873 Comments – Netflix US (@netflix) on Instagram: “”I wrote to you everyday for a year and you left me on read!””
Why It Works
Netflix knows its audience very well.
A huge portion of their users are millennials, hence why they would use popular internet humor to gage their attention and connect with them on social media.
By indirectly promoting the various shows and movies that they have in their inventory, they encourage conversations online. They get people talking about their favorite things to watch on Netflix, and these discussions spread faster than a wildfire.
H&R Block is a tax preparation company, which is the farthest thing from funny, but they still use humor anyway.
They find random, funny, and relatable ways to talk about the mundane task of getting your taxes filed. Through this humor, they promote their services in a creative and engaging way.
For instance, during tax season, they used polls as a way to remind people to file their taxes. With this poll in particular, they used the relatability factor of reasons why you are putting off filing your taxes. They used a small bit of humor and a pop culture reference with their poll option of “binging season 7 by 4/14”, referring to Game of Thrones.
You still haven’t done your taxes? (No judgment.) You’re putting off filing because:
Paco’s currently doing what he does best…snoozing. Did you know sloths sleep 10+ hours a day? You know who’s not sleeping anytime soon…our tax pros. We’re open late! #SlothStream https://t.co/SXVkHF6eku
Why It Works
H&R Block is a good example of how to use humor despite being a more serious company. It works because they don’t go over-the-top, they aren’t inappropriate, and they stick to what they know.
Like Netflix, H&R Block also directs their humor towards millennials. They are very calculated with their humor in regards to the relatability factor.
They encourage people to use their services by indirectly promoting themselves and interacting with their audience regularly.
Commonalities of Fast Food, Movies, and Taxes
Aside from the humor factor itself, you may be wondering what these three brands have in common. Their branding strategies are way more similar than you realize.
They all build their brand awareness by:
- Using the right kind of humor to appeal to their target audience, which helps them to both maintain and grow their audience.
- Using trends and pop culture references to stay relevant and to stand out against their competitors.
- Following the 80/20 rule of social (80% helpful content; 20% promotional content) to increase engagement and build conversations with their audience.
The humor they use is very strategic and their social media posts are done with careful consideration. They each stand out in their respective industries because they take the time to truly understand who they are marketing to and what their competitors are doing.
If you want to use humor in your marketing strategy, it must make sense for your industry, it must align with your target audience, and it must be consistently updated to stay relevant.
About The Author
Laura Wigodner is the Content Marketing Manager for Nex Gen Dynamics. Her lifestyle articles have been featured on Elite Daily, Medium, and Thought Catalog to name a few. She also writes professionally on Content Marketing, Social Media, Branding, and more. A Bradley University Alum with a B.A. in Communications and Creative Writing, Laura loves writing poetry and watching YouTube videos. You can find the Swiftie on Twitter and Instagram, as well as anywhere there is coffee because that is her lifeline.