creativity, communications, Nonprofits

The Joke May Be On You.

Using humor in advertising and marketing communications has long been a common practice. Although it has not always produced the desired results, namely brand recognition and increased sales.

In fact, all too often humor backfires. Often because the humor is merely contrived and irrelevant to the brand.

But even well done and relevant humor can sometimes backfire because few things are as subjective as humor. Let’s face it, not everyone finds the same things funny.

Most guys laugh at fart jokes. Most women do not.

In fact, some guys just laughed because I used the word, "fart" in a sentence. (Okay, I admit it was me. The laugh, that is, not the fart.)

The fact is if humor is used for its own sake and is not organic to the brand or product, you may get people to laugh, but they usually won't remember who you are or what you’re selling.

How many times have you found yourself laughing out loud after a commercial only to have your spouse ask who did the ad and you simply draw a blank?

But humor can be a powerful tactic if used properly. If you make people laugh from a relevant brand truth, humor can make a brand memorable and endearing to your audience.

The key here is "from a relevant brand truth." To be effective it must be organic to the brand or some product or brand attribute.

Authenticity is as important in humor as it is in all other types of communications.

And while I've used humor in advertising and marketing communications I’ve written and directed for a number of commercial brands, I’ve not done so as yet for any of my nonprofit clients.

I’m not saying I won’t do so in the future, but so far I’ve not found it to be an appropriate tactic for nonprofits.

I guess it has more to do with the connection I’m trying to make with donors.

When raising money and support for an organization or cause, for the most part I’m trying to pull heart strings instead of tickle funny bones.

What do you think, is humor ever appropriate for fundraising?

Have you tried it?

Did it work?

Let me know.