Nowadays, we see a lot of company videos and advertisements that are intended to be funny. Sometimes this is taken too far in an attempt to stand out, making memorability more important than the brand. Other times, however, humor is perfectly suited to a company’s specific audience, making a product or service more popular. Is this an effective technique or is it a passing trend?


Apart from company culture, we want to know (1) if humor is valuable for those that you are marketing to and (2) what effect it has on your target audience. To examine this, we’ll ask questions of the use of humor in order to draw a final conclusion.

Does Humor Work Well in Most Contexts?

According to a 2017 study done by the Journal of Science Communication, participants showed that “the use of humour in popular [scientific] articles [was] considered valuable for the majority of” readers. There were differing “degrees of receptiveness” to this humor, meaning that its use was cautioned, but it was effective.


A 2011 article in Psychology Today suggests that humor is typically a good thing. According to Dr. Peter McGraw, Associate Professor of Marketing and Psychology at the University of Colorado Boulder, “humor appears to help people’s psychological and physical well-being,” even “helping folks cope with stress and adversity.” However, the article also notes that humor “doesn’t always work” and can be “destructive,” as in the case of Groupon’s 2011 Super Bowl commercial; Groupon received mostly negative feedback, according to NBC Chicago, since audiences didn’t get the joke.


A 2011 article in Psychology Today suggests that humor is typically a good thing. According to Dr. Peter McGraw, Associate Professor of Marketing and Psychology at the University of Colorado Boulder, “humor appears to help people’s psychological and physical well-being,” even “helping folks cope with stress and adversity.” However, the article also notes that humor “doesn’t always work” and can be “destructive,” as in the case of Groupon’s 2011 Super Bowl commercial; Groupon received mostly negative feedback, according to NBC Chicago, since audiences didn’t get the joke.


Finally, an article by Forbes describes humor’s role in teaching, stating that “students are much more likely to pay attention and grow throughout the learning process if they enjoy what they’re doing.” Using humor to make learning words enjoyable, Mrs. Wordsmith has successfully built an educational business around funny drawings. Since students “tend to remember and recall information…when learning brings forward emotion, memories and feelings,” this approach brilliantly assists students ages 2-13.


Apparently, then, humor is like a knife. In the right hands, it has the ability to provide great benefit, carving beautiful things, but can be horribly destructive if used improperly. In multiple very different contexts, humor works successfully, but only if certain conditions are met.

When Does Humor Succeed?

For the purposes of our discussion, humor only works when it is used as a means to a specific goal. The goal should be to communicate something about your brand. Per the cases above, humor was used in order to explain technical, scientific information or facilitate learning.


If humor distracts from your primary goal, it doesn’t work. If you’re using humor in order to get laughs, it won’t really work. This puts memorability above the brand; it’d be like advertising your apparel company via toilet humor. This wouldn’t necessarily elevate your name, but would guarantee that viewers remember it – as something ridiculous.

Humor succeeds when it is (1) properly relevant to the target audience and (2) accomplishes your goal, communicating something about your brand. When used as a tool, humor does a great job captivating an audience. Humor puts others at ease and can essentially build a relationship with your target audience, opening them up to interest in your brand. As we’ve already seen, it can also be used for teaching and dense explanation.

Therefore, humor is valuable for those that you are marketing tool, if used the right way. It can affect your audience negatively if you don’t use it well, but is generally beneficial. This is something with some high risk, but can bring high reward.

Should your company videos be humorous? You make the decision.