Humorous Copywriting – Is It a Good idea?

Humorous copywritingThis is going to be short and sweet, but what do you reckon?

Should your copy be humorous?

Is there a place for it?

Well, before you can answer that you really need to think about your brand.

You’ve worked long and hard to create a particular image, so before you decide to use a touch of humour in your next marketing campaign, ask yourself the following questions:

1. Is it really funny?

Perfecting a humorous campaign takes time. But you do have to remember that not everyone finds the same stuff funny.

Just because you’re humour makes you roll on the floor laughing, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will have that effect on everyone.

2. Oops

Not only do you run the risk of creating something that, for many, is not funny, but you could also end up causing offence.

Poking fun at certain people could land you in an awful lot of hot water.

3. Kill not cure

As I mentioned earlier, you have taken a lot of time and energy getting your brand’s image just right. If you’ve spent time and money creating something that’s renowned for its quality, seriousness and soberness and then put out an ‘amusing’ marketing campaign, you could turn off a lot of people very quickly.

The moral is…

At the end of the day, it’s a brave marketer that goes for the humour angle on a whim.

Make sure you look at your brand, your product and your audience before you start thinking comedy. After all, you want your customers to be laughing with you, not at you.

Sally Ormond – freelance copywriter

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#1 Oliver Radini on 12.02.11 at 1:04 pm

I’m always glad to hear this. All the ‘greats’ seem to agree that humour is too risky for copywriting.

Feels like a big weitht off my shoulders.

#2 admin on 12.02.11 at 1:08 pm

Hi Oliver,

Humour is so subjective that you never know whether you’ll strike a chord or offend – just look at Jeremy Clarkson!


#3 Lucy Smith on 12.04.11 at 9:45 pm

I stay away from humour – it’s too easy for a joke to fall flat on its face. Especially when conveyed through writing, where it’s really hard to get the tone just right (like email). It can work, but you really need to know your audience and know exactly what you’re doing.

I disagree about Jeremy Clarkson, though – his schtick has nothing to do with incorrectly gauging an audience or not knowing whether a joke would strike a chord or offend. It’s being curmudgeonly and offensive, and railing against political correctness (read: politeness).

#4 Daniel Frank on 12.09.11 at 11:56 am

Offensive humour can get you a lot of attention though and Clarkson is great example. He has an audience who enjoy his grumpy, anti pc shtick so the fact he has offended appeals to that audience and alienates people who aren’t going to be customers anyway. May not be ethical but it is effective.

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