Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Humor and advertising

Nowadays I DVR my favorite shows ad breeze pass the commercials, but once there was a time when I did watch live television. I actually take that statement back, to this day I always watch one program “live” at 6:30 and that is Wheel of Fortune. While I try my best to block out the commercials I always catch myself staring back at the television waiting for something amazing to happen. Or at least a commercial that is slightly more creative than the everyday car commercial. The only time I tend to really get sucked into commercials is when the ad involves humor, and guess what/? I am not alone in this matter, in fact, I found an entire scholarly article about the subject of Humor and Ad Liking.
Turns out the way ad creators keep their jobs is due to schmoes like us who buy into the feel good nature of ads. Many studies have been commissioned to see just how the human mind responds to ads and in the article I found, it is evident that this isn’t taken lightly.
The method Galloway and his team used was selecting ads from 1994 commercials from London. Forty two undergraduate students were required to rate the commercials in regards to funniness, arousal and liking. The ads ranged from a baby miming a song to a tire commercial.  The ads were ranked as humorous and liking versus non-humorous ads and the sensation they garnered from the recipient.  While the researchers believe that the retention rate of ads that use appropriate humor far exceeds ads that do not use humor, it is all dependent on the type of humor used, the setting in which the ad is played and the context by which the humor is delivered.
In actual reality I wonder if there is a real way to understand if humor always works or if it doesn’t. is there really a common joke that everyone finds funny? One has to wonder about this, as everyone interprets humor differently. Just as Brits have a different sense of humor than those in the US, they might not find out humor funny at all.
In direct relation to this study I found this video on youtube. I sent it to some of my friends and asked them if they thought it was funny, only 8-12 friends said it was, even though I thought it was hilarious. What do you think?

Galloway, G. (2009), Humor and ad liking: Evidence that sensation seeking moderates the effects of incongruity-resolution humor. Psychology and Marketing, 26: 779–792. doi: 10.1002/mar.20299

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