In this month’s article, “Laughing Your Ads Off: Comedy Writing in Advertising,” Jenny Shaw highlights how adding humour to your advertising can be a valuable tool for making yourself memorable with consumers. In an age where skipping commercials is becoming more normalized and shorter attention spans are becoming more apparent, here are five guidelines to keep in mind if you want to entice your audience to laugh out loud.

1: Remember the secret to making your ad memorable: With the implementation of streaming sites like Hulu and Netflix, commercials are slowly becoming a thing of the past. We live in a time where everything is given to us in a fast manner – fast food, instant checking, commercial-less television watching – the list goes on and on. It’s no surprise why the human attention span has decreased over time. We – as a society – want what we want, AND WE WANT IT NOW. To combat this mentality, some companies have found the secret to dodging this obstacle, and it’s by implementing comedy into their ads. Who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh? If a person watches something that is saturated with good humor, chances are they will remember it – better yet, share it with their friends and family. Jenny lists multiple examples of companies who made their commercials inherently memorable by implementing this advertising hack.

2: Aim to create a positive brand image: The main objective a company has when creating an ad is to evoke positive emotions about their brand. If a company is too serious with the way they approach the messaging and promotion of their ad, they’re walking through murky waters and it may rub consumers the wrong way or detach them altogether. Implementing comedy – in a tasteful manner of course – can be a sure way to avoid your content leaving a bland taste in your consumers’ mouths.

3: Understand the science behind the laughter: Scientists have studied the science behind laughter for decades: what’s one common theme they’ve found? It helps with memory! There are three theories as defined by Professor and Doctor of Philosophy, John Morreal, that help us understand what people find funny and why:

1. The Superiority Theory – laughter comes from someone else’s misfortune

2. The Relief Theory – laughter comes from a place of excess tension and nervousness

3. The Incongruity Theory – laughter comes from the combination of two polar opposite ideas and generates an unexpected outcome

While there is no “right” way to add comedy into the mix of your brand message, remembering there are different ways to make people laugh at and remember your ad will help keep your concepts fresh.

4: Don’t just write like a comedian, walk like one too: As with most things in life, comedy doesn’t always come naturally and it’s easier said (or written about) than done. Due to this, when generating comedy concepts, it helps if you and your team are able to create a space where no comment, idea or suggestion is “bad” because you never know when the last “not so great” solution could spark the “next best thing.”

5: Explore and utilize the standards out there: Once you make the decision to add comedy into your advertising, the next and final step is to decide how you are going to execute it. Writer’s block can be a real pain in all scopes of creating written content; one tactic is to use the comedy Rule of Threes. This guideline shows how implementing the joke or gag three different times influences the audience:

1. First time: Sets up the expectation  

2. Second time: Reinforces the expectation

3. Third time: Breaks the expectation

To utilize this and other “rules of humor,” you need to work to really understand the hearts and minds of your target audiences, otherwise the joke may land on deaf ears.

If you’re in search of creative concepts that can cause chuckles, please give us a call at 701-478-1111 and ask to speak with a Marketing Advisor, or contact us at