Did you ever notice how “humor” and “Homer” have the same amount of characters and start and end with the same letters? Coincidence? I think not!
Well, actually it is.
Fun fact: Matt Groening named the character after his own dad.
Still, the two things are hyper-related. Homer is funny, and so is humor! When done correctly, that is.
Homer Humor in Marketing
I recently got a chance to watch Tim Washer’s talk on “Humanizing the Brand with Humor and Storytelling”. If you haven’t seen it, then you should. It’s funny, it gets straight to the point, it’s logical, it’s entertaining, it’s helpful…. In short, it’s everything we aspire to be! Oh, and it’s only 21 minutes long.
In the talk, Washer explains how humor can help to humanize a brand, make them appear authentic and help to pull down prospective buyer’s guards.
He makes an incredibly valid point.
Adding humor in marketing strategies is still kind of a scary concept for most people.
Even for someone like moi it can be daunting – and I will, on occasion, drop a sassy remark or two in my blog posts! And when I’m feeling particularly adventurous, I even possibly throw in one too many exclamation marks!!
I’m a little “out there”.
But as I brainstormed for this upcoming blog post on humor in marketing, the thought occurred to me that the post should be humorous too – Practice what you preech, and all that jazz!
But I was scared by the prospect.
Generally, I’m just not so good with funny stuff. I’m maybe funny when I fall down stairs, or when I mishear something, or when I laugh so hard I snort… Oh, and I steal my partner’s jokes and pretend they’re mine.
But the thought of being humorous over an extended period of time made me anxious.
But then Washer said something that convinced me that I had to try it.
He told me that if the idea of something scares you, then you should probably pursue it – “Follow the Fear” as he calls it.
So I decided to try it.
“That’s it! You people have stood in my way long enough. I’m going to clown college!”
Where to start?
“‘To Start Press Any Key’… Where’s the ANY key?”
If you’re feeling a little anxious about whether or not humor in marketing will work for your business, then start off small.
When you’re starting something new, it’s best to start off with something you’re already familiar with, if you can. For example, you don’t create videos, then running out to create a humorous video might be overkill, not to mention you won’t have the audience built-up to watch it.
Do you Tweet often? Then schedule some funny tweets!
Are you giving a presentation soon? Add in a quick joke to spruce things up!
Once you start adding pieces of humor into what you’re doing, you can gage what works and what doesn’t. Soon, you’ll be funny-ing up everything!
So what types of humor works in marketing?
Let’s take a look:
Laugh At Yourself
Self-deprecating humor can work a charm, if you know how to do it right. Just take something about your business that is less than favourable, for example a shortocming, a misconception of your industry, or something that’s stereotypical, and make light of it. Own it.
“It’s funny ‘cos it’s true!”
This kind of humor in marketing strategies can actually help a struggling business reclaim some of their dignity! Kind of.
Internet Explorer (in conjunciton with Onion Labs) did just this with their marketing, utilizing the idea that they’re the web browser that “you love to hate” and creating hilarious videos poking fun at themselves (while also getting word of their new updated browser our there too!).
Act Like an Adult-Child
We all take ourselves too seriously from time to time. It’s not that we want to, it’s just that we get caught up in bills, work, taxes, gym, cleaning etc. that we sometimes forget how to take it easy.
Charmin are the kings of joking around.
Toilet paper doesn’t seem particularly funny. In fact, the only humor that you could really see connected with toilet paper would be toilet humor, right? Right. And they’re not shy about it.
Joining in on the trending hashtag #RejectedTVShowNames, Charmin started making poop-puns. Clever, huh?
“I am so smart, I am so smart, S M R T, I mean S M A R T.”
Take the Ordinary, and Put a Spin on It
Cliché’s, routine, repetition… we’re all guilty of it. In fact, we don’t even know we’re doing it most of the time.
Which makes for great comedy when someone points it out to us!
For example, Homer takes the typical “children are the future” motif, and adds his own comment on the idea: “I believe children are the future, unless we stop them now”.
Brands can channel this in their marketing too. Old Spice takes an inspirational quote that’s often shared (possibly by their competition!) to inspire people to work harder, and well they kind of… do a Homer on it.
Using Your Resources When You Have Them
If you don’t use it, you lose it. Like Homer’s beer: “My beer! You never had a chance to become my urine!”
It’s important to use what you have.
Even NASA can do it:
Anything can be injected with some funny – even space travel!
Think Your Brand is “Too Boring” for Comedy?
Well then, you’re just making excuses.
“Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals! Except the weasel.”
Anything can be made funny, as long as you put in the time and effort.
Don’t believe me?
Well, what do you think of when you think of Adobe? A software company, right? Not exactly the “ha-ha” industry of the world. Yet, they managed to create something that’s positively hilarious:
Inappropriate Humor… Is Inappropriate.
While I’m all for adding humor to your marketing strategy, there is a line, somewhere, that you should probably find… and then mark it with lots of red tape and then write “DON’T DEAD OPEN INSIDE*” all over the front of it to make sure that no one ever accidentally opens it.
*The Walking Dead. Sorry for the nerdy joke. IT’S ALL I KNOW.
Desperado seemed to forget that such a line existed when they created this piece of content that tries just a little bit too hard to be funny and cool, and then misses it’s mark completely.
After that kind of mess up, I’m thinking that they should maybe take Homer’s advice:
“If at first you don’t succeed, give up”.
Injecting humor into your marketing strategy isn’t hard. In fact, it can be a lot of fun. And, with a bit of luck, you might even hit on something that goes viral!
On that note, I leave you with the wise words from the man himself:
If you really want something in this life, you have to work for it –Now quiet, they’re about to announce the lottery numbers!