A laughing matter.
April 14, 2016 at 1:14pm by Marketa Krivy
Mark Twain once said, “Humour is mankind’s greatest blessing.” In fact, humour is so important to humans that we learn to do it within weeks of birth. Infants laugh despite the cognitive development to understand why something is funny. By the time they’re 4, children are laughing about 15 times an hour.
Among other things, laughter has been shown to reduce stress, boost the immune system and enhance brain chemistry through the release of serotonin and endorphins. You can “self-medicate” by watching a funny movie. Laughter, it turns out, really is the best medicine.
Advertisers too certainly understand the power of humour. It’s been published that the use of humour can prevent negative brand associations. Its positive effect enhances favourable brand associations and promotes brand preference.
From FedEx to Audi to Dos Equis to IKEA to Apple, advertisers have used humour to build massive global brands. If you haven't seen Apple's new spot to tout hands-free Siri on the new iPhone 6S, watch it here.
But strangely, humour seems to hit a wall when advertisers are talking specifically to women. A recent press release for Walmart illustrates that point. Their Spring campaign #manmath, abandoned their usual ‘caring and straightforward’ tone to embrace humour. Their reasoning is what's so interesting: "because this campaign is targeting men, we decided to use humour to appeal to them."
So does that mean humour doesn't appeal to women?
Now I’m not taking a crack at just Walmart here. In general, when advertisers are trying to connect with women emotionally, they don’t consider using humour. Yet with female-driven comedies on the rise, it would appear as though our industry is operating with a misguided gender bias.
According to a study published in the journal of Social Neuroscience, in response to humour, women’s brains show greater activity than men’s, in reward-related regions of the brain. Those are the same endorphin-releasing centers that make women feel good when they’re eating chocolate or having sex. In other words, women’s brains are hardwired to appreciate a good laugh.
Weiden and Kennedy discovered just how powerful (and lucrative) humour aimed at women can be. Their hilarious Old Spice campaign, 'The Man Your Man Could Smell Like', managed to not only resurrect a dying brand that was about to be pulled off the shelves for good, but to turn it into a category leader.
Now I’m not arguing that humour is the only way to connect with women. We are, after all, multidimensional beings. But there is absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t be on the table. Especially when you consider that making women laugh could be the greatest blessing for your bottom line.