Why humor in brand advertising is so important.

What you’re about to read is the opinion of an ad guy (me) that’s been doing this for 25 years. I’m not going to barrage you with stats and graphs, but I will provide you with why (I think) humor works so well, particularly with branding.

You may or may not be aware that in any given day, thousands of marketing messages are flashed in front of our eyes, ears, noses and fingers. Every human sense is a target. What do we do? Well, most of us do our best to avoid the “noise.” We do this because most marketing messages are so futile that they actually deplete our intellect.

When we see a never-ending ad for some prescription drug that’s 30% (bad) acting and 70% legal (CYA) declaimer, we change the channel. When we hear a radio spot about how some car dealership offers the “best price first” so there’s “no negotiation necessary,” we yell “BS” and then change the station. Why is it that companies pay big bucks for advertising that people can’t stand or simply don’t believe? I suppose they have their reasons, but I still don’t get it.

Humor, in any medium, sets the advertiser apart. It creates “theater of the mind” for listeners, a 30-second smile for viewers, and can leave a really good “taste in the mouth” for your brand. People like to laugh and feel good. Right? People relate to a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously, at least in public. There’s enough to be angry, serious and upset about out there. Why would you want your advertising to add fuel to that fire?

I think the reality is that humor is hard. It’s challenging. Just ask anyone who has tried stand-up comedy. When you kill it, you can drop the mic, but when you bomb, the only thing you should drop is your act—and a few resumes in the mail.

Humor that bombs in any medium is painful to your audience. The cringe factor is almost as bad as fingernails to a chalkboard. So why bother, right? You’re not funny, right? That’s why you should keep funny and smart people on your team. You may know everything there is to know about running your business, but humor just isn’t your strong suit. That’s fine, but I’ll bet you do know “funny” when you see it. Am I right?

Humor in advertising makes an emotional connection between your brand and your audience. All of a sudden you become relevant and memorable. You’re even attracting a new demographic audience–you know, the one everyone is going after. Humor creates a positive response in an otherwise negative media environment. Humor makes people happy, at least ephemerally, and leaves a lasting impression way back in the mind. If they see enough of your humorous messaging, aka a great campaign, that impression moves to the “top of mind.” That’s exactly where you want it! When they’re ready to buy, to switch or to try, your brand is the first thing that will come to mind.

Short and funny can last a long, long time. Believe it or not, there is humor in everything from circuit board manufacturing to banking. You just have to find it. Once you find it, by all means share it. We all love a good laugh. For more information on humor in brand advertising, and for a few chuckles, check out the McDougall + Duval on our YouTube Channel

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Find Gen Z on YouTube

You know what one of the most popular platforms for Gen Z is? YouTube! When I first saw the statistics associated with Gen Z YouTube viewership, I was a little surprised… until I started thinking about my YouTube habits. I realized I am on YouTube every day. I turn to it for new music, empowering speeches, and entertainment (noting the unfathomable number of times I have watched Cinemasins, Adam Ray, or the same Bad Lip Reading video over the past few years). To reach Gen Z, it is important to know this effective platform and the best way to advertise on it.

Did you know that  95% of Gen Z uses YouTube? In a recent study, 50% said that they could not live without YouTube. Gen Z uses YouTube more than any other social media platform. Naturally, this is the best place to reach them. They mostly use YouTube for entertainment (51% of Gen Z respondents), news (23% of Gen Z respondents), shopping recommendations (24% of Gen Z respondents), and how-to information (66% of Gen Z respondents). In all of these categories except for news, YouTube is the number one response.

YouTube is also extremely important due to its influencers. Social media influencers are often trusted as much if not more than mainstream celebrities in matters of technology, beauty products, and clothing. Gen Z is also receptive to branded content. About 78% said that it was acceptable or sometimes acceptable for a celebrity to discuss a product or brand that they like. However, they prefer the celebrity to disclose that it is indeed branded content. In a different study, 54% of Gen Z respondents said that they would advertise their favorite brand via influencers. The next highest were TV commercials at 51% and pre-roll video ads at 43%.

Part of YouTube’s appeal is that it is essentially all visual. Gen Z is full of visual learners. They take in information best visually. A study by Fullscreen suggests that Gen Z views digital video and short form clips six times as much as written digital content. They would rather view something than read about it. That being said, the best way to reach them is visually. I am not saying there should be no copy in ads, but the visual content of the ad should be the main draw. Words are great, but you cannot rely on them alone. Whether your ad is a digital video clip or a banner ad, it should be less word focused and more eye-catching (insert the cheers of art director and graphic designers here).

When it comes to YouTube, there are an incredible number of advertising opportunities. Some advertisements are specific to different viewing platforms. For example, display ads and overlay ads are only viewable on desktops/laptops. This does not mean that these are poor options (plenty of Gen Z uses their laptops), but they will not reach every viewer that you may want. Below, I have listed the forms of advertising that I believe (with evidence to back up my claims) are the most effective to reach the Gen Z audience.

  1. Influencers:

If you read any of this blog post before this sentence, you have already read about the power that influencers can have. Though the ROI can be a little difficult to track in this relatively new marketing technique, it has been proven that the right influencer and the right market can work wonders for brand awareness and sales. The beauty product Benefit is one of the greatest success stories. They did not even have to start paying their influencers until this year because they made more personal connections. They were able to send the influencers free products and increase sales and brand awareness, particularly with major beauty bloggers like Zoella. In addition, they set up a portal for micro-influencers that gives exclusive access to new products and events. Influencers have proved effective for Benefit because they found the right influencers for the right market. For a smaller/regional company, it will likely be more beneficial and cost effective to use a micro-influencer. Micro-influencers have between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. Micro-influencers are in several different fields, and it would not be difficult to find one that reaches your target audience. To reach influencers, offer them payment and/or free products or services. In return, they will make your brand known to their Gen Z audience.

  1. Skippable Video Ads:

There are definitely pros and cons to this type of advertising. Skippable video ads appear before, during, or after a video and can be skipped after five seconds. Of course, the major disadvantage is that there is a high chance that a lot of the ad will be skipped. This means that you have to make the first 5 seconds of the ad grab the viewer’s attention enough to either make them want to continue watching or make a significant impression without the rest of the ad. However, a skippable ad gives you a lot more time than most of the other commercials on this list. You can essentially make your ad as long as you want. Another advantage is that it is the only one that is accessible on every viewing platform (desktop, mobile, TV, and game consoles).

  1. Non-skippable Video Ads:

The best part about non-skippable video ads is, well, viewers cannot skip them. They have to watch the whole ad before they can watch the desired video. You do not have to worry about viewers missing the message because they skip the ad. These ads can be viewed on both desktop and mobile devices, which is huge for the on-the-go, cellphone-loving audience. They are shown before, during, or after a video. However, these ads are limited to 15-20 seconds. You have to get your entire message across in a small amount of time. There is little room for copy, and therefore the ad should rely on visuals.

  1. Bumper Ads:

Bumper ads are non-skippable video ads up to six seconds long that are shown before the video can be played. The advantage of these ads is that they cannot be skipped. They can also be viewed on both desktop and mobile devices. However, they are only six seconds in length, an extremely short amount of time to get a message across. These shorter ads are very effective for Gen Z’s short attention span. The faster a message reaches them, the better. A short ad like this is difficult to effectively create, but it can be extremely effective if done right.

YouTube has become the most effective digital resource for reaching Gen Z. With strong viewership and several viewing platforms, it is the ideal location for your Gen Z targeted ad. A strong YouTube ad can get you far with this audience. If you have an ad that a viewer particularly likes, they might share the ad itself on their other social media pages, creating more publicity and brand awareness. Though there is still much to be explored in YouTube’s marketing potential, it is a strong resource to be used now and in the future for targeting Gen Z.

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