If you are into marketing, it would not take you much to validate that any marketing effort is destined for success if it’s served with a tinge of humor. We call it humor marketing. There are many reasons that a humorous campaign often gets huge success or at least creates better engagement than others. However, the key factor is, people tend to remember a campaign for long if it brings smile on their face and at the same time touches a pain point.

But if you take up the challenge to make people laugh, it’s your duty to design a full-proof campaign, ensuring nothing goes wrong, else it will backfire badly.

So, let’s get started with the three checkpoints of humor marketing with some examples:

Fun: This is the essence of humor marketing.

We are living in an age where life is faster than blinks and where stress takes a toll on our humorous-self. So, if you provide your audience with a chance to pause for a while and laugh, they will appreciate it.

Just like the Burger King’s Subservient Chicken campaign. Earlier in 2004, the fast food chain introduced the campaign to launch their TenderCrisp sandwich. The campaign had a dedicated interactive website, where a man, dressed in a chicken suit, would perform on a user’s command. The campaign got 15 million hits in the first week.

Barger king campaign

The main reason behind the huge success is, it tickled the funny bone of people and invoked a little childishness among adults. Imagine, a giant chicken obeys every command; you are putting down from taking a moon walk to doing pushups! The thought itself is amazing, isn’t it?

The campaign went so viral that Burger King has decided to re-launch it this year for their new product, namely Chicken Big King sandwich. Let’s see if it overshadows the previous one, as social media is here to play a big role.

Information: People love funny things but if you create a little scope for information in your campaign, it would add value against their time as well. This is the second and probably the most crucial pointer of humor marketing: giving information while spreading smiles.

This one from California Milk processor Board stands tall in this category.

In early 90s, sales of milk drastically decreased due to other drinks coming into the market. To cope up with the situation, eleven CA-based milk processing companies formed a board, called California Milk Processor Board. The main aim of the board was not only to increase milk consumption among Americans but also to create awareness about the health benefits of milk. So, “Got Milk – The Mustache Campaign” happened.

In this campaign, various celebrities and famous movie characters were shown flaunting a white mustache as a result of having a glass of milk. The fun part of the campaign is, fictitious superheroes like Batman, Superman, Wolverine, Fantastic Four as well as real-life celebs such as Beckham and Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek featured in the campaign with white mustache along with small yet funny messages.

Got Milk mustache campaign

The campaign was one of the most long-lasting campaigns till date that lasted for 15 years. California milk sales grew 7 percent in the first year and the campaign generated 97 percent awareness rate in the state.

Control: Humor marketing is adventurous to add little fun elements in any campaign but at the same time needs you to be over-meticulous. The simple reason being, tickling someone’s funny bone is easy but if you overdo or misuse it, it may end up bringing tears.

One such example is Abercrombie & Fitch’s Asian t-shirt campaign in 2002. They planned to celebrate the Asian-Pacific American Heritage month with a newly designed t-shirt collection. They created some racist t-shirts featuring bucktoothed ugly-looking Asians with disturbing messages like “Two Wongs Can Make it White”, “Wok and Bowl”, “Buddha Bash”, “Eat in Or Wok Out” etc.

Asian t-shirts campaign

Asian Americans went furious over these t-shirts and thousands of emails were sent to Abercrombie & Fitch to withdraw the collection from the market. As last, the company was forced to remove those racist t-shirts from all outlets. In a statement, they said, “We are truly and deeply sorry we’ve offended people. We personally thought Asians would love this T-shirt.”

So, the essence of humor marketing remains, spread laughter but don’t over-sell.