Turning lols into sales: 3 ways brands can win customers through humour

As advertisers, we tend to piss people off quite a lot.

We interrupt podcasts to flog salad spinners, ruin evenings of TV serenity with garish offers, clutter up cities with sterile billboards of airbrushed families, and worm our way into social feeds when everyone’s just trying to look at nice videos of cats.

You’d think, then, that making our ads funny and entertaining might sooth this irritation – compensating for our intrusive behaviour and serving as the price of admission into people’s lives.

And yet, when you look at the big picture, humour in advertising seems to be going out of fashion. Over just two decades, the percentage of funny ads has dropped by almost 20%.

At outré creative, we think this needs to change. We believe comedy is a powerful tool to connect with audiences, change people’s minds and, ultimately, stand out in a sea of seriousness.

Here are just a few ways you can use laughter as part of your strategy. And put the humour back in consumerism.


1. Humour helps you overturn negative perceptions

John West’s tinned fish is a product that sounds so unappealing, it’s even got its own Michael McIntyre skit. So, how do you make it more palatable to the masses?

By getting a man to have a bare-knuckle fist fight with a bear, of course.

In the space of a few jabs and a kick to the knackers, all the functional, uninspiring associations of the product disappear.

In its place emerges a hilarious brand that’s not afraid to take its advertising into absurd places, while communicating the hard work and dedication that goes into making their salmon taste good.

More importantly, the next time you’re in the supermarket browsing for food, you’ll remember John West and notice those canned fish chunks glinting at you from across the aisle.

Job done.


2. It also helps you tackle tricky topics

Talking openly about sex makes many people squeamish (I bet you even cringed a little just reading the word sex). We shouldn’t find this too surprising when you consider there are so many different words for the act (we Brits have over 30).

And it’s even harder for brands to talk about contraceptives: after all, some people can’t even buy condoms and bananas in the same shop.

However, there is one brand that’s nailed ‘the talk’. Durex approaches safe sex with humour and enough tongue-in-cheek to keep Miley Cyrus satisfied. The video above is a bit old, but it’s one of the funniest contraceptive commercials around, which helps the message reach the most prudish of audiences.

What’s more, Durex has even successfully subverted the societal ban on talking about *checks surroundings and whispers* anal sex. Its ‘Enjoy the other side‘ campaign uses wit, and some superficially mundane imagery, to leapfrog people’s defences and subtly sell lubricant gel.

Which goes to show: there’s no need to shy away from tricky or sticky subjects like these. So long as you make your audience laugh, you’re probably onto a winner.


3. And lastly, it helps you differentiate yourself

There are arguably few USPs that distinguish one brand of soft drink from another. To make matters worse, it’s hard to wrench a share of sales away from Coke, who owns four of the world’s top beverage companies.

So in the early 1990s, Fresca tried something different. Instead of droning on about obscure ingredients no one cares about, they entertained customers with an ad that, on the face of it, makes very little sense.

In a truly irreverent style, it parodies the taste-testing format that’s been so popular with drinks brands throughout the ages – an effective way of sacking the competition.

It also has a very self-aware understanding of its minimal role in people’s lives as a citrusy refreshment.

Rather than feel the need to save the world, or award itself a lofty social purpose that’s only loosely connected to the product, Fresca simply attempts to get our attention, make us laugh and leave before we get bored or annoyed.

Alas, if only soft drinks brands nowadays would be so humble…


At outré creative, we’re helping businesses rediscover their sense of humour and stand out from the crowd.

For more advice and info, get in touch with us at hello@outrecreative.com