The LOL factor and why it should not be missing in B2B advertising either

Category: Digital

Humour is rarely used in B2B marketing. We understand the concerns about punchlines in advertising subjects and banners. But we also want to reassure you: the worries about damaging a B2B brand with humour are unfounded. 

Guess. Which films do marketing directors like to watch the most? Documentaries? Thrillers? Adventure films? Hero epics? No. Marketing directors - and this is no joke, but the result of an American study - love comedies above all. Out of 24 film genres to choose from, they rank first in the cinematic menu of choice.

Guess again. What is the common intellectual foundation of the 15 best advertising campaigns of the century - at least according to a ranking by the US marketing magazine AdAge? You already know: humour.

For example, take a look at this spot from an Australian railway company, which was ranked 12th in the century list:

Or this one from Apple starring a comedian very reminiscent of Bill Gates:
And then there's this legendary spot here from Budweiser - and before you ask: no, we're not like that. That's not who we men are.
Citroen becomes Zitrön. You will certainly be familiar with the spot from this campaign to supposedly rename the French car manufacturer - it has been hotly debated in recent weeks:
Certainly at number 1 of our in-house video production team is this short film about ourselves:

What is hardly represented in our laughter list are B2B brands that would have used mouth-watering punchlines in their advertising. In fact, humour is a rarely used stylistic device in B2B marketing, both in print and digital advertising formats.

According to a 2018 study by advertising agency Gyro. Most B2B marketers prefer to list the benefits of a product or service in their advertising content., closely followed by fact-rich enumerations of the facts. Humour ranks second to last among all the answer options offered.

However, the fear of punchlines is not very comprehensible even for rather bulky goods such as control cabinets, energy terminals, servers or heat pumps. In the same study, 91 per cent of the 400 B2B decision-makers from IT or technology surveyed said that humorous advertising attracted their attention. Another 86 per cent said that punchlines in particular strengthened the recognition of the respective brand.

One of the biggest worries of B2B marketing professionals, namely that humour in advertising would lead their companies into the clunky corner, has probably also been disproved by the authors of the Gyro study: Test persons who were presented with humorous advertisements from General Electric, Intel or Squarespace continued to rate the respective company as innovative and trustworthy. The willingness to buy did not decrease at all.

And because we know that you, as readers of this blog, are particularly interested in the sustainability of marketing measures, we can also assure you that irony and humour definitely benefit the advertising impact of display advertising in the long term beyond the mere click. In a test banner for a software provider, the humorous version achieved almost 500 per cent higher search activity and more than 75 per cent higher website visits than the non-punny version.

B2B becomes H2H. H for humour.

Pointers: B2IMPACT - The agency for impact and results

"I have reason to believe that...humour can now sell."


David Ogilvy

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