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Marketers Effectively Connect With Consumers Through Humorous Campaigns

August 14, 2020 Joelle Beckett

Shutterstock_567601909 Female friends wearing sun glasses and smile widely as they take a photo with their cell phone

From social media content to viral videos, marketing campaigns that employ humor can often help diminish the barriers between brands and their target audiences by positioning a brand’s products or services as part of a greater cultural dialogue. Author of “Humor that Works: The Missing Skill for Success and Happiness at Work” Andrew Tarvin said, “Both humor and marketing are about communication.... If you get a consumer to laugh, you get them to listen. If you get them to listen, you get them to learn, and ultimately act.” 

As a result of the pandemic, consumers are seeking online content to satisfy their entertainment needs and have increased their time spent online. A recent study from market research firm GlobalWebIndex showed that, in addition to a rise in online content consumption, there has been an uptick in the consumption of funny or humorous videos. 

During COVID-19, while some brands embraced empathy and encouraged sentiments of joy and hope, other brands, like Budweiser, Old Spice and Doritos, launched campaigns rooted in the concept that consumers are ready to laugh again. 

Old Spice’s Irreverent Ads Continue With A Nod To Quarantine Hair

old spice hats are dumb hair is awesome

The inability to get a haircut because of health risk concerns has been a relatable topic across media platforms since March. For the past six months, consumers have seen increased DIY haircuts or overgrown dos on people across the globe from talk show hosts to professional athletes.

In April, P&G brand Old Spice offered an “Isolation Haircut Tips” commercial with a humorous nod to DIY haircuts and beard trims during the quarantine. The ad features a man getting out of bed saying, “another day isolated,” offering consumers step-by-step instructions for a DIY haircut and highlighting how Old Spice can help style all hair and beard looks.

In July, Old Spice launched “Hats are Dumb. Hair is Awesome,” encouraging consumers to embrace and tame unshorn isolation hair. The campaign features claymation and animated plotlines, alleviating the need for on-site filming.

Old Spice continues the “Hats are Dumb. Hair is Awesome” campaign by partnering with sports superstars as they came out of quarantine with shaggy hair preparing for the return of live games and upcoming seasons. Teaming up with athletes like Tyler Herro, Travis Kelce, Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich, the video features before and after shots of the athlete’s coronavirus hair, then their hair paired with the finesse of an Old Spice products. The spot ends with the tagline, “Dare to dream. Dare to ditch the headgear and dare to take a shot at having awesome hair, like me.”

Budweiser Reinvents Its Iconic “Whassup?” Campaign With Personal Connections

Budweiser wanted to check in on their audiences during quarantine with some light-hearted exchanges. In April, the iconic beer brand updated their popular “Whassup?” ads from 1999-2002 with a Zoom-like interaction using the brand’s funny catchphrase. Former NBA stars, entertainers and actors joined a video chat to discuss their new quarantine habits – like rewatching past sports games, living off of snacks and being sick of the kitchen – all while sharing other light-hearted realities about life during COVID-19. 

The commercial takes a serious turn at the end when the question is asked: “For real, ‘Whassup’ with everybody? Are you guys staying safe?” The tagline is “Staying connected matters more than ever right now. Checking in, that’s Whassup.”

The silliness of the iconic “Whassup?” catchphrase being shouted from one friend to another has evoked feelings of positivity and connectedness since 1992. Budweiser cleverly balanced the need for humor with the current social reality of checking in on the mental and physical health of friends and family during the pandemic. 

Doritos Campaign Uses The Shared Experience Of Waiting for A Delivery During Quarantine

“The Last Doritos” commercial starts with the question: “Down to your last Doritos and the delivery is two weeks away?” The man in the video nibbles on his last chip over the course of two weeks, turning to different quarantine-type activities until his grocery delivery arrives.

COVID-19 has been a catalyst for more consumers using grocery delivery and pick-up services. Sales from grocery delivery and pick-up increased 80% from March to June 2020, with June sales growing to $7.2 million. But, as the demand for grocery delivered increased, many consumers competed for limited pick-up and delivery slots. Doritos tapped into consumer sentiment with many people feeling the pain of waiting for a grocery delivery while they avoided shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. 

Major world events have caused marketers to pivot their messaging before. Marketing during a crisis, like the current pandemic, should focus on building relationships with the consumer rather than just selling a product. A connection established through humor can help engage and build brand loyalty by emphasizing a shared positive experience between consumers and brands. 

Are You Looking For New Ways To Reach Your Audience During Uncertain Times?

By assembling the broadest, vertical-agnostic digital media distribution capabilities in the market, Digital Media Solutions® (DMS) helps brands engage consumers and stay agile. Our proprietary media, inclusive of owned-and-operated websites and messaging platforms, combined with our premium partner publisher network provide distribution volume that can make a true impact on business results.

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About the Author

An experienced content specialist with a dynamic skill set including news writing, graphic design and social media management, Joelle Beckett has established herself as an effective strategist in the world of digital marketing. At Digital Media Solutions (DMS), Joelle is a Content Manager, creating content for several DMS owned-and-operated websites and providing editorial, creative and technical support to team members. Joelle also researches, writes and edits in-depth articles weekly for DMS Insights, covering digital marketing trends, technology and innovative strategies for growth.

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