How a Punchline Can Send a Strong Message

  • How can I use humor to connect with my audience?
  • What techniques can help me add humor to my marketing?
  • How do I make sure I’m using humor in the right context?


They say that laughter is the best medicine. As a marketer, it can also be the best way to get your message across to your target audience.

Whether you’re launching a campaign or doing a presentation, using humor helps you connect with your audience. That’s because laughter lowers people’s defenses and makes them more open to new ideas and points of view..

People’s brains also register humorous moments as positive memories. So if you present an idea wrapped in humor, people are more likely to remember it.

Let’s look at an example. The CMO of a global beauty company is presenting a 105-slide deck about global growth, and wants to add a bit of humor to it. How can she make her slide about global sales of the hottest new lipstick more memorable?

Let’s find out

Even though both slides show almost the same information, the one that displays lipstick stands out in the audience’s mind, and is more relatable.

Let’s see how used humor to differentiate themselves from their competitors. wanted to stand out in a competitive online booking industry. They decided to humorously play on their name, implying that it made them the obvious choice for booking hotels.

As part of a North American ad campaign that has since gone global, they created Captain Obvious, a superfan.


Captain Obvious’ humor came from him pointing out things that are wildly apparent, like, “Hotel gym is short for gymnasium!”


The ad campaign’s humor rested in the combination of the situational humor, the quirky appearance of the character, and his deadpan delivery of extremely obvious facts.


This humorous approach reinforced the connection between hotel bookings and in the target audience’s minds. The campaign was a hit, resulting in a 30% increase in site traffic to

Listen up

Humor isn’t just for ad campaigns.

It’s also a great storytelling device you can use in all your marketing, like social media content or blog posts, to engage any audience.

The first step to creating a humorous story is finding the game. This is coming up with a funny element in the story you want to tell in your marketing campaign.

Do this by creating a main character with an unusual trait. For example, imagine a horse rescue shelter is creating a social campaign around “horse success stories.” One features Helen – a bookish, globetrotting horse.

Once you find the game, ask yourself: “if this funny/ unusual thing is true, what else is true in the world?” This will help you discover humorous elements without resorting to cheap gags.

Next, bring the game to life by setting a vivid scene and describing how the character moves and talks.

After you’ve established the scene, heighten the game by pushing the character and situation to the limit.

For example, Helen embarks on a journey of self-discovery spanning for Paris to India. She recounts her journey in an online diary called “Eat, Neigh, Love.”

It is important to keep humor consistent by obeying the rules of the game. Every story has its own internal logic. Maintaining these rules, however arbitrary or absurd, will allow you to go as big as you want.


Think of your marketing message like a punchline. You want to build the story over time so that the final message will stand out.

Humor is all about context, especially when used in marketing. A joke is only funny when told at the right place, at the right time, to the right audience.

Make sure the humor is timely and relatable to your target audience. Jokes about politics can be funny…unless they are bout an election 10 years ago or your target audience is not of voting age.

Humor is the #1 characteristic associated with high view rates for ads, but make sure the humor you use is right for the medium: A joke that works in 30 second TV ad might not work in a print ad.


Now that you have seen how humor can help you connect with your audience. Make a humor with your stories and find the right audience.

Next:   Move Past Failure with Effective Storytelling

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