PAUL MILLER BLOG – Is It Time for a Laugh Yet?

Is It Time for a Laugh Yet?

I have just returned from a speaking engagement at an event in Phoenix, Ariz., where I focused on some case studies of how to achieve growth in low-growth markets. The speaker before me from the ad agency Gyro gave a captivating presentation on advertising in B2B markets that I am still thinking about 24 hours later.

With a point of view based upon qualitative and quantitive research, the evidence is that in consumer advertising, creative that contains humor (that could make you smile inside or belly laugh, spitting out your coffee) results in the audience feeling more positive about the brand. In fact, most of the award-winning and most effective ad campaigns contain humor.

The question was then asked, “Why do we not see humor in B2B advertising?” The agency actually researched B2B marketers and professionals. Almost all stated that it was safer to stick with facts and present advertising in the form of data sheets. They felt that there was risk in using humor in marketing messages. However, when target audiences were shown ads containing humor in the B2B sector, they confirmed that the ads made them feel more positive toward the brand/company/product being advertised and more likely to engage further with the company. The respondents went on to state that the ads using humor stood out from the morass of data sheet “creative” that they are bombarded with everyday!

Gyro and Research Now are in the process of implementing stage 3 of their research, where they will work with engineers and other B2B professionals to measure the true impact of humor alongside a more “traditional” approach from the same company to really dig into the responses.

I was reminded of a focus group I attended a couple of decades ago where a large global semiconductor company was researching advertising creative with engineers. When asked what they wanted to see in an advertisement, the engineers responded that they wanted the “speeds and feeds,” a URL, and (this was 20 years ago) a 1-800 number to call. They were then shown a number of ads, including some that fully addressed their stated needs. To a person, every engineer picked out advertisements that contained some form of humor as the ones that would actually make them stop what they were doing and seek out more information. Advertisements containing things like elephants balancing on stools (I think it was an AMD ad) were actually pinned on the wall of the focus group room as the type of ads that would make an engineer feel they wanted to engage more with that company.

So, given that we work in an industry that continues to push out messages based upon the speeds and feeds of a product, it seems as though there is an opportunity to stand out from the crowd for those willing to make the audience smile and/or giggle and laugh out loud. In fact, as research continues to suggest that younger professionals make no distinction between their professional and personal lives, B2B is going to need to become more like B2C—and the industry needs to get there faster. As I mentioned in my presentation, marketing is a key factor in how growth is achieved in low growth markets…

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment