Article

Nick Hajdu
Nick Hajdu 29 June 2018

How brands are using humour to show personality and gain trust

7 examples of films that do (and don’t) hit the mark.

It’s all about trust.

As consumers, it appears we are losing trust in the brands we buy from.

With the rise of fake news, post-truth, the recent Facebook data scandals and the brand safety issues surrounding YouTube, this is all hardly surprising.

So, what is it that brands need to do to win back the trust of their target audience?

Of the many answers to this question, one of the most important is personality. Brands attempting to show their personality through their content reveal more of who they are and what makes them tick - creating a more genuine and loyal relationship with their consumers.

Central to all of this is the subject of humour.

When done right, adding humour to content can be the best way to reveal personality. 

However, as we all know, there is a fine line between being funny and head-in-hands cringe. If you’re not careful, humour can backfire terribly risking the ridicule of your social audience and an image that’s hard to shake off.

So, how are brands using humour?

Here are some of our favourite brands that are doing it well (and some that aren’t…)

1) New Zealand Tourist Board

Famous for their self-deprecating sense of humour, this piece from the NZ tourist board is a great example of fun, engaging content. Showing that even their own Prime Minister has a sense of humour, this film sees a local private detective attempting to work out why New Zealand is disappearing from the world’s maps.

2) Hostelworld

Widely applauded, the series of films from Hostelworld sees celebrities ‘slum it’ by staying in an American hostel, usually frequented by students and travellers. In this case, famously troublesome guest and super-celebrity Mariah Carey is pleasantly surprised by what she finds when her team mistakenly book her in to the wrong hotel.

3) SodaStream

Along similar lines to the Dollar Shave Club factory walk-through, this is certainly one of the better recruitment films we’ve seen over the years. With a large helping of self-deprecating humour throughout, SodaStream definitely ensures we get to know the people and the brand as we are warmly welcomed to join the team.

4) Volvo

An oldie but goodie. ‘The Epic Split’ features a fantastic pairing of the Swedish Volvo brand with the cool and composed Belgian, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Held up as one of the great executions of the last 10 years, Volvo creates a masterpiece that you just have to crack a smile at.  (The ‘making-of’ film is also well worth seeking out.) Note: the important role that music plays here to complement the film and enhance the ambience. 

5) Yoti

And finally, we’ve included this one as an example of how even serious issues can be dealt with cleverly using humour. The element of humour (here used to illustrate how easily someone can adopt a fake identity) is used to draw the audience into a difficult, yet important subject, and gently provide the shock needed to encourage the audience to take the issue seriously.

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Of course, it’s not all good. It would be remiss of us to publish an article on humour without adding the very strong caveat that, with humour, things can also go very wrong.

Humour is a very subjective thing that will touch the funny bones of some, but not of others. So, a word of warning, be careful how you use humour and be sure to test your idea out on as large a sample pool as you can before pressing the big, red ‘Live’ button.

Here’s a couple of examples we feel simply miss the mark, but we’d love to hear what you think, or if you live in the countries these ads were aimed at, where the reception might have been very different from the one we’re giving them over here!

6) POM (USA) 

7) Pizza Hut (Singapore) 

Nick Hajdu, Co-Founder of Navigate Video

Ryan Hughes
Ryan Hughes

Great article! Though the YouTube comments on the POM dolphin video seem to disagree with your thoughts on it ;-)

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