Effectively Using Humor In Ads

Like most people, I love a funny commercial.  Progressive Insurance does a fantastic job at being humorous in their ads.  But are they TOO funny? Take my personal favorite – the “Blind Date” commercial.  I laugh every time Flo’s sister is asked “What do you do for fun?” and responds “Not this.”  My husband and I even quote it sometimes we find it so amusing. But does that commercial make me want to buy their insurance?  No. Does it make me remember anything about their company other than the humor? No. I love Flo. I think she is charming. I can see her face and instant brand recognition.  But they aren’t selling Flo. They aren’t selling humor. They are trying to sell insurance, and at least with me, they are missing the mark.

Does this mean humor is never useful in an ad?  Of course not. Another commercial that makes me smile every time it comes on (and gets quoted regularly at my house) is this commercial for Fed-Ex.  They use band members (presumably metal or rock) who are supposed to be these tough guys who hate everything.  BUT, they don’t hate golf. To “save” their image, their manager proposes using Fed-Ex to ship their golf clubs from now on.  Before this commercial, I didn’t know that was an option. And that is a hassle for most players, so this is a real problem with one possible solution.  At the end of this ad, I looked into this as a future option, which is all you can really ask a commercial to do.

So what’s the difference between these two ads?  Progressive’s ad is just as clever and funny as Fed-Ex.  But the humor in Fed-Ex’s ad is focused entirely around what they offer, whereas the Progressive ad is funny just to be funny with some information about their offerings thrown in as an aside.

At Miller, we don’t make ads to make ourselves look good or receive recognition just for the heck of it.  We know your ads need to SELL. So sure, we’ll make you a funny commercial, but we’ll also make sure people pick up the phone or computer afterwards to actually purchase your product.  Give us a call today at 972-243-2211.