The Comedic Contagion: Should Content Be Funny?

As content continues to dominate digital strategy for many, the marketing lexicon has gained yet another cliche. ‘Content Shock’ refers to the overwhelming volume of content generated in proportion to demand. Suffice to say, the former significantly exceeds the latter.

In this super-saturated digtal-scape how can businesses ensure budgets allocated to content generation and dissemination yield dividends? And how can marketers rise to the challenge of creating and sustaining a continuous flow of truely ‘stand out’ content?

The Humor Hypothesis

Increasingly, marketers are employing humor to differentiate and socially ingratiate their brands. At the very least, humor cuts through the clutter, tapping human emotions, building rapport and creating memorability.

Used cleverly, it will extend, consolidate and transcend communities with the celerity of a viral pandemic.

Humor can take many different forms, from the slapstick style of Mr. Bean, to the deadpan rhetoric of a Ricky Gervais mockumentory, from stand-up one-liners, to cleverly constructed witticisms in tweets and blogs.

The Science Bit

Irrespective of form, humor stimulates a physiological response increasing endorphin levels in the anterior cingulate cortex of the brain. This area is resonsible for memory encoding and it is therefore highly probable humorous brand promotion increases brand memorability.

The Psychogical Factor

Humor is used by individuals for coping, self-enhancing and affiliative purposes. It has the power to emotionally connect customers to your brand and research shows 72% of brand followers are more likely to purchase a brand they connect to. Creating shareable humorous content also extends campaign reach by exploiting the affiliative aspect of a personality.

Social: The Ultimate Content Conduit

Social media provides an informal platform for formally perceived brands to project personality and engage in humorous posturing. Channel transparency enables businesses to commit to the conduit that best suits their needs ensuring appropriate humor reaches intended audiences.

Social channels empower brands to leverage tactical opportunities, exploiting natural, political and cultural phenomena to elevate brand profile.

The Pitfalls

Humor is subjective. Target audiences definition of funny will vary, depending on age, lifestyle, gender or culture. Sarcasm and irony can often be misinterpreted and offensive. Comprehensive risk assessment is essential for campaigns, protecting brands from potential embarrassment and utter annihilation.

When campaigns become repetitive, much loved erstwhile humor can irritate. It is important to consider extensions for core campaigns using alternating vines, segments and communications to keep content fresh. So shake it up!

Simple and visually based content works best as it transcends language, age, cultural and social barriers resonating with the majority of audiences.

It is prudent to ask the question ‘how far is too far’. Humor can devalue your brand proposition. Maintaining integrity is critical to brand posterity and success.

The Last Word

To quote Charles Dickens  ‘there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor’. This sentiment is widely subscribed to, endorsing the power of humor. There are many incentives for brands to employ marketing humor. If you choose to use it, you can make a positive impact with your brand, and for your brand. But beware of the many pitfalls – they’re ‘no laughing matter.’


OLIVER has a solid track record of providing content – funny and otherwise – for brands of all shapes and sizes. Check out our BMW case study for one example, or visit to find out more.

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