The Renaissance of Humor in Advertising: A Breath of Fresh Air in Brand Communication

Filed Under: Shopper


Kathleen Blum

Vice President, Shopper Insights Research

In an era where brands often struggle to stand out in a saturated media landscape, the resurgence of humor in advertising has emerged as a beacon of hope and engagement. Inspired by an intriguing blog that delved into the world of humorous advertising, I was particularly struck by the recent shift in the John Lewis Christmas ad campaign, which embraced humor to captivate its audience. This serves as a perfect springboard to explore the broader implications of humor in marketing and how it’s reshaping brand communication.

The Evolution of Advertising Humor

Since 2002, the advertising world has witnessed a noticeable decline in the use of humor. Factors such as economic recessions and global pandemics contributed to a more somber tone in brand messaging. However, a recent trend reversal has caught the eye of industry experts. The pivot towards humor is exemplified by the John Lewis Christmas ad and Apple’s “R.I.P. Leon” campaign. These ads signify a broader industry trend, moving away from purely emotive narratives to incorporate wit and charm.

Why Humor Matters in Advertising

Humor in advertising isn’t just a tactic to elicit laughs; it’s a strategic tool to forge a stronger emotional connection with the audience. The Oracle Happiness Report reveals a telling statistic: 90% of people are more likely to remember ads that make them laugh. This enhances brand recall and fosters a positive association with the brand. In an age of fleeting attention spans, humor acts as a magnet, drawing and keeping the audience’s attention.

The Balance of Humor and Brand Message

Integrating humor into advertising is a delicate art. It requires a balance that ensures humor does not overshadow the core brand message. Campaigns like the Liquid Death ad campaign strike this balance adeptly. They use humor to underscore their messages, ensuring that the laugh doesn’t come at the expense of the brand’s purpose.

Inclusivity and Sensitivity in Humorous Ads

Today’s consumers are more aware and critical of the content they consume. This awareness necessitates a shift in how humor is employed in ads. Brands must avoid humor that punches down, targets vulnerable groups, or alienates their core market. Instead, there’s a growing preference for inclusive and empathetic humor, resonating with a broader audience while staying true to the brand’s ethos, like this ad from Amazon.


As we navigate a world brimming with serious news and often grim realities, injecting humor into advertising offers a welcome respite. It’s not just about making people laugh; it’s about creating a memorable, positive association with the brand that lingers long after the laughter subsides. The rewards for brands willing to embrace this trend are manifold: greater engagement, enhanced recall, and a stronger emotional connection with their audience. As we head into a new era of advertising, let’s remember the uniting power of a good laugh and its lasting impact. Let’s celebrate brands by bringing humor back into the spotlight and making our world a little lighter, one ad at a time.

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