Humour Vs Shock in Advertisements

969 words | 4 page(s)

The most important role of advertising is to capture people’s attention. Old advertisements are not effective in reaching out to the customers. The consumers will always fall for products that are newer in the market or those that appear to evolve. For a product to thrive against the competition in the market, their product has to be advertised over and over again, every time changing the design of the advert. Nowadays, adverts are either shocking or humorous. This research paper delves into the comparison between humorous and shocking advertisements.

The 1960s Era
During this period, for instance, the soap ads basically said, ‘buy our soap’ according to Myers. From the 1920s, the result of buying the specific soap was to get a better life. Since the1960s, consumers became progressively jaded by adverts thus new advertisement models had to evolve. The new methods included puns, irony, juxtaposition and parody among others.(Myers 12-25). Using shock and subconscious devices has been experienced greatly in the ads since 1960.

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Advertisers and agencies have applied the shock tactics of advertising. Shock would end the consumers’ jaded experience about ads. The first shocking advert was by the Uniroyal car tyre manufacturer when they used a photo of a smashed car with a slogan ‘a drop of rain never hurt anyone’. Earlier, shock had been used in safety and health campaigns such as Mental Health Trust, Drinking and Driving and others. This tactic was however not used for commercial purposes. Since then, shock has been used in several ads. For example, the Benetton’s campaigns have constantly used shock. Oliviero, in 1992, during a Benetton campaign, used the photo of an AIDS victim. This advert was controversial; consequently, the French bill-boarders denied Benetton a chance of posting their campaign. The FACE magazine in Britain however continued with the advertisement but all the revenue was to go to charity. Companies need to operate with the sense of the global market. They have to put away the national and regional differences and carry on their advertisements with the sense of the global market. The best tactic to use globally is shock compared to humour. It so happens because humour varies from country to another whereas shock remains as shock all over the world.

Humour has the power to reach out to individuals hence in ads; humour can attract us to a commodity. Paradoxically, according to Johnson, making an object seem funny is so difficult (Johnson 110). In comparison, shock is short-term while humour may have a superior longevity. Humorous ads have served as the oldest kind TV campaigns. For instance, Hamlet cigars have had a campaign since 1964 to 1991 where they used Bach’s Air on a G-string. A humorous campaign may increase the sales of the product but at the same time, humour might befuddle us from the commodity (Johnson 117). Benetton’s profits have massively increased as reported in 1994. This might suggest that in commercial terms, shock works better than humour (Myer 10). Half of all TV ads use humour and the contributions are effective. Humour makes ads more memorable, enjoyable and involving. The humorous advert has to be developed keenly lest it distract from communication and branding which impedes the effectiveness of the advert.

Humour makes Adverts Memorable
Humour has been used globally in adverts because it makes a big input to the ads’ memorability. Humour is used more common in North America than any other part of the world where 69% of the ads in the top awareness index are humorous. The advert is likely to be funnier from the extent of the humour it invokes. There is a strong bond between impact and humour since humour drives involvement, which in return drives memorability (Sheldon 25).

Humour and Branding
Branding does not have a direct relationship with humour; however, where both are related, the ads are so effective. The relationship builds for instance when the slogan, characters and style go in hand with the brand (Sheldon 29). In humorous adverts where the humour is unrelated to the product, the branding gets weak.

Humour, Persuasion and Communication
Humour’s relationship with impact and enjoyment is more straightforward than it is with communication. Communication is aided by the right humour but the wrong humour impedes it easily. Humour that is distractive misses the key message hence detracting from the overall effect of the advertisement. An advert that uses a joke that is not funny is described as irritating and boring by viewers thus the enjoyment levels are below average. While using a more original humour, the benefits of the brand remain unchanged. The enjoyment rating and message communication is enhanced by a stronger humour. Persuasion is not aided by communication since humorous adverts appear to be less relevant and credible. The advertisers need to avoid diluting robust persuasive communications with humour (Speck 43).

Humour among Men and Women
Humour appears to be equally funny to both genders though women and men may perceive some differently. This happens especially in violent, scatological and sexist humour. For instance in an ad where the body parts are being sliced apart, men find it interesting, distinctive and involving whereas women consider it irritating, disturbing and unpleasant. Women enjoy humorous adverts that make jokes at the expense of men. In Brazil for instance, women buy fabric conditioners and humour is rarely used in such a category (Speck 54). However, an advert showing a man doing laundry while the woman sat watching TV was so humorous to the women. Housewives perceived it to be interesting, involving and distinctive.

From the discussion above, it is clear that humorous ads are financially more successful than shocking ones. An advert that is too shocking may backfire and may be seen as offensive. A shock ad that does not appear to be shocking enough may not get through the media muddle (Myers 76).

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