If a funny advertisement makes you laugh, will its humor help you decide to buy a product or service? Only when the message is “just right,” says Caleb Warren, presenter at the Arizona Senior Academy lecture on Wednesday (May 10) at 3:30 p.m. in the Great Room. His topic is “Humor in Advertising: When it Helps and When it Hurts.”
Warren contends in recent studies that ads that make people grin or laugh are not always in the best interest of advertisers. An assistant professor of marketing in the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Business, he has studied the effects of humor for the past decade – particularly how it impacts customer decisions.
A 2004 graduate of Emory University, Warren completed his PhD in 2010 at the University of Colorado, where he began his focus on humor in advertising. His research is based on the concept that people find humor in “benign violations” – material that in a harmless or non-consequential way can threaten one’s sense of well-being, beliefs or personal identity.
In his energetic, example-filled presentations, Warren shows why advertisers should avoid ads with highly inappropriate humor, ads where humor makes someone the butt of a joke, and humor that elicits feelings of disgust as well as laughter.
His remarks will feature modern-day equivalents to such humorous classics as AlkaSeltzer’s “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing,” Wendy’s “Parts is parts,” or Chiffon Margarine’s “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.”
Warren says: “One [ad] can be persuasive and help the brand, and another can be counterproductive and hurt the brand, and you usually can predict the response based on the type of benign violation used in the ad“ and whether it triggers negative feelings as well as humor.
Written by Fred Volkmann, Academy Village Volunteer