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The effectiveness of clever, humorous advertising

Humorous advertising or clever ads are risky, but appealing and the payoff can be big when executed properly.

clever advertising

humorous advertising

Clever advertising is appealing

Currently, it’s 8am and I’m about to begin research for this article. To get a feel for what’s already out there, I Google, “The effectiveness of clever advertising.” I open about 6 new tabs, with some being decent information, but mostly I find lists of humorous ads. As I wipe the tears from my laughter, I look over to the clock and it is seriously 8:51am. Oh man. There goes that hour of my life.

Need I point out the brilliance of clever advertising? Who doesn’t love a good belly laugh, especially if it’s unexpected? If you’re looking to sell your business, company, or product – appeal to people’s happiness. It’s a duh thing. Allow me to explain…

Speaking just about internet banner ads, consider these statistics: users are more likely to get into MIT than click a banner ad, more likely to survive a plane crash, more likely to birth twins, and are served over 1,700 per month… resulting in a click through rate of only about 0.1%.

Humorous advertising grabs attention

As for advertising as a whole, according to a 2012 study by the Gale Group, U.S. advertising annual revenue trumps 48 Billion dollars. You want to grab your audience’s attention – and your audience wants to laugh. Humor grabs their attention, and since you have it – fill it with what you have to offer. They’ll remember your humor, so be specific so they’ll remember your company or product as well.

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Humor is in the eye of the beholder, and can definitely be misinterpreted – so tread lightly. You don’t want to offend your audience. That being said, using humor can also be extremely effective. Being clever sets you apart… and isn’t that the whole reason behind advertising? People will look for, talk about, and remember your funny ad. I, personally, like funny advertisements; it offsets the feeling of being “targeted” and makes a product or company approachable. Not to mention, how many times have you said or heard the phrase, “Have you seen that one commercial….?”

Humorous examples for inspiration:

[pl_video type=”youtube” id=”pppeJ7JhSG8″]


Written By

Tasha Salinas is a staff writer at The American Genius, holding a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications and Journalism from Northeastern University. She is an info geek who reads, talks, & thinks way too much. You don't want to know how long it took her to write this bio.



  1. Gary Little

    May 30, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    I experimented with humorous advertising when I first got my real estate license. Not sure that it got any business for me, but every so often someone mentions they enjoyed the ads. You can see my efforts archived here:

  2. MattThomson

    May 31, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    I love that immediately following the sentence about banner ads being less likely to be clicked than birthing twins…sits a banner ad.

    • agbenn

      June 3, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      Well, AG is special in that it focuses on a direct audience, albeit several different demos. We maintain a very high click rate, and are probably a rare anomaly. We work really hard to target ads to relevant business as best we can, not to mention we’re really picky about what shows up here. Not much we can do about ads that follow you though from sites you’ve visited, or products you’ve shopped. =

  3. robb

    November 22, 2019 at 8:29 am

    For the most part, the concept of advertising has remained fundamentally the same over the years. The only changes would appear that some ad companies today are desperately seeking to become more relevant in their profession by attempting to be overtly imaginative and “over the top “clever.” Unfortunately, in the process of attempting to be nouveau riche and exceptional, it would appear those specialty production companies have lost their customer message and their ability to effectively sell to the public. What they have accomplished in many respects are entertaining videos with a confusing message.

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