More On The Superbowl Ads

Lightening Bug in the UK sends us this question:
“What would you say is the difference in consumer response rates between ‘straight’ ads and humorous ones?”

There isn’t a black-and-white answer.  It would take a measured study to get a scientific answer.  Sometimes a humorous ad won’t out-pull a non-humorous ad.  There are always some non-humorous ads near the top of the polls after a Super Bowl game is over.  But here are some observations.

1.  Ads that attract interest will be more successful than ones that don’t.  When an ad makes people laugh, they’re more likely to pay attention to it.  Humor definitely attracts interest in this MTV/entertain-me world.  The most successful non-humorous ads are the ones that touch the emotions.  People want to be moved one way or the other.

2.  Viral ads are a plus.  People are more likely to tell others about the ad.  You can’t beat word-of-mouth to bump up the effectiveness of an ad.  Great humor ads create a buzz…and we see it happen on the Super Bowl.

3.  Memorable ads are more effective.  A high-quality humor ad is hard to forget.  I remember ads from  previous years.

4.  Generally speaking, humor increases trust and decreases skepticism.  Both are good factors when it comes to sales.  Even if the humor doesn’t directly sell the product, people like to do business with people and companies who have a sense of humor.

5.  Humor can be risky.  If the humor mis-fires, you could be shooting yourself in the foot.  To work well, the humor must be high-quality and tailored to your target audience.

6.  Many other factors come into play.  Humor may be great, but the product being sold also must stand out and be memorable.  Sometimes the humor totally smothers the advertising message, and that would have a negative impact.  I’ve frequently watched a funny ad, and when it was over I couldn’t answer the question, “What were they advertising?”