The Magic Of Humour

Humour sits neatly at the intersection between brand building and sales. We all know that the decision to buy can be based on both rational and irrational thought processes. The fact is that consumers from both a marketing and economic perspective don’t always make the most rational choices but then again, the received benefits are often seldom rational and utilitarian.

Technology has proliferated the channels and touchpoints enabling far greater opportunities to interact. What’s fascinating for us these days is that humour can be used at many points along the customer journey and be a part of the overall brand experience where it is most relevant.


Brands don’t necessarily need to define themselves as being ‘funny’ brands or ‘serious’ brands – but the interactions can be. Being told the clock speed of a microchip or the chemical composition of a lipstick isn’t likely to get consumer reaching for their wallets, but then again, nobody wants to negotiate with a clown.

Looking at how, when and where customers touch brands in this day and age, gives us much more scope in how we use various forms and styles of communication.

Amusement is the desired response to often complex or unexpected external stimuli. But we need to be careful how we apply it and to what extent. The history of social media is littered with badly thought-through tweets. In social media, as in comedy, timing is everything.


What we find at OgilvyOne is there are many shades and subtleties to humour (which can grow exponentially as campaigns increasingly have global audiences). Humour is often a good way for a brand to make a connection. I would also put ‘fun’ into that category. Our communications don’t necessarily need to be side-splittingly funny, but where we are able to be playful and demonstrate a sense of fun, we see some of the strongest results.

Some of the most endearing campaigns can be simply playful. Ever watched a plane fly overhead and wonder where it was going – wishing you were off to have fun in foreign climes? That was the thinking behind our Magic of Flying campaign for British Airways last year which was universally well loved.


As people, we like to laugh. It makes us human. And we like to laugh at any time, we don’t pick a specific time or activity that defines when we should be having fun. This is why humour and the connection it can make is so important for certain brands and interactions along the journey that make up the total customer experience.

First Appeared on Advertising Week Social Blog.

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  1. Philippe Brown

    Nice story Sam. Humour can cut through the information overload and connect directly to the heart and smile.

    It’s been a while. We worked together, albeit in different capacities, at O&MD in Soho Square in the late 80s.

    I trust that all is well with you.


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