British Humour in Marketing Campaigns: Your Essential Guide.

Summary/Overview

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British humour – it has a mind of its own. If you’re not familiar with it, it often feels like trying to master a very subtle, sarcastic dance – with your limbs flailing in a sea of inside jokes and cultural references. Famously, it plays on influences like wordplay, satire, irony and dark humour, and can often show itself as double-ended jokes or nuance.

But, trust us, just like the map of the British Isles itself, it’s not as complicated as it first appears.

Mastering British humour in advertising can be the key to capturing your audience – and failing to do so could end up alienating them. In this guide, we’ll explore how to create funny marketing campaigns and advertisements that don’t land flat, and how to recognise the nuances of British humour.

Why use humour in your advertising efforts?

Quite simply, humour makes us human. Your audience doesn’t want to interact with a faceless, bland brand – they want to speak to people. More specifically, people who understand them.

Witty marketing campaigns (when they’re done right), are the ones that people share and remember. In fact, a recent study by Oracle, revealed that 90% of people were more likely to remember a brand if their ads were funny. And nearly half (48%) of people said that if a brand doesn’t make them smile or laugh, they don’t feel like they have a relationship with them.

So, hitting the British cultural comedy nail on the head can do more than encourage a few chuckles. Making your marketing efforts funny can also help make your brand:

Engaging advertising: How to use British humour in marketing.

Using British humour in marketing to create engaging advertising campaigns requires a bit of practice. There can be a fine line when mastering its nuances and cultural ‘rules’ in a branded setting. For example, when used wrong, it could be seen as:

Knowing where, as well as when, to use humour in marketing is equally as important. Each platform requires different levels of comedic nuance, and humour can have different effects depending on its purpose.

Humour in social media.

Brands can utilise a bit more freedom and personality when it comes to using humour in social media marketing. Platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Facebook provide open channels of communication, meaning you can have witty interactions with your audience both through ad-hoc conversations, and planned marketing campaigns.

The key on social media is to keep humour relevant. Whether you’re creating a meme to keep up with cultural movements, or using video templates sparked by TikTok trends – it’s all about being as reactive as you can.

Engaging email marketing.

Email marketing relies on engagement – more importantly, hooking your reader with the subject line. You’ll know from personal experience how quickly you tend to skim and bin emails if they don’t appear relevant to you.

Using humour in an email subject line or intro paragraph can help keep people engaged. But it’s important not to alter or overpower the purpose of the email itself. Humour should be clear and purposeful, and match your brand message and voice.

Print marketing can’t rely on two-way communications, eye-catching graphics or specific structures of humour that work well online. You’ve only got a certain amount of space, and only one shot at getting it right. If the audience don’t get the joke on your poster, then humour can cloud your sales message and make it redundant.

Because of this, humour is often used much less across print media in comparison to other forms of marketing. But, used right, it can be succinct and clever – and resonate with snappy British wit. When used intelligently in its limited space, a quick-witted pun or visual can be even more impactful and memorable than a meme with a social shelf life.

Entertaining influencer marketing.

Laughter is powerful, especially when shared with another person. This tool can be purposefully harnessed through influencer marketing. These online stars are the stepping stone between you and your audience. They are trusted to understand what they want – and what they find funny.

On its basic human level, laughter itself shows vulnerability. This can, in turn, heighten the trust and build stronger relationships between customer, influencer and brand.

Witty PR marketing.

PR marketing is one of the best ways to illustrate your brand voice, and set the tone. When used well, integrating subtle hints of British humour into your press releases can grab others’ attention, and disrupt the usual flow of traditional PR.

As a brand, you’ll be competing for attention across your industry. So, being that little bit different can help you solidify your image. The key is to be consistent with your humour, and to remain tasteful.

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Examples of witty marketing campaigns.

Witty marketing campaigns can help your brand retain relevancy and memorability. Humour can act as a great form of brand storytelling, and can be used as a building block for your tone of voice and image. But, just as when you first started crafting your company, this requires a bit of experimentation.

So, let’s explore a few ways to experiment with using British humour and wit in your marketing campaigns.

5 funny marketing tips.

1. Retain your brand identity.

Your humour should be consistent with your brand’s identity. It shouldn’t feel inappropriate or out of place, so use it sparingly and carefully. It’s important to capture the right emotions that are in-line with your brand’s identity and formality.

2. Keep your audience in mind.

Styles of humour can vary wildly depending on the platform of your campaigns and your audience. Keep in mind that British humour has many nuances, but the umbrella of British humour itself also varies depending on your audience’s location. Do your research and make sure you fully understand who you’re targeting before jumping in.

3. Test and learn to see what works.

Similarly, you’re not expected to get it right on your first try. Perfecting the right levels of humour in your marketing efforts will take a bit of trial and error. The key is to listen to feedback from your customers. Analyse their behaviours and responses but, on a more personal level, communicate with them to find your balance.

4. Adapt to different platforms.

Audiences and behaviours will differ depending on the platform. Naturally, this means the humour required to resonate with people on each site will also differ. For example, TikTok has its own set of trends, social cues and in-jokes and is more influenced by Gen-Z culture, with the majority of users aged between 18 and 24. Meanwhile, almost of a quarter of users on Facebook are between the ages of 25 and 34.

5. Use humour sparingly and subtly.

British humour relies on subtlety. British audiences are less likely to engage with humour in marketing if it’s loud and brash. Too much distasteful humour can blur the lines a little and often nullify the brand sentiment you’re trying to get across. Just remember – learn from your audience’s responses, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

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Useful things to know.

Should I use memes in my advertising campaign?

Memes can be a powerful part of advertising campaigns – but they need to be tasteful and relevant. Memes especially often have shelf lives, so you need to be quick on the draw. Don’t spend too much time debating things, as it can sometimes only take days for references to lose their relevance. That doesn’t mean you should rush into things, though. If a meme doesn’t feel right for your brand voice, don’t use it.

What is moment marketing?

Moment marketing is an advertising strategy that utilises social trends, news, events and even culture-influenced jokes and memes. The aim is to be reactive and boost brand awareness, riding the wave of current events that are relevant to your respective audiences.

Why is wordplay important in marketing?

Language is a very powerful brand tool. Wordplay can make brand voices more unique, interesting and witty and, therefore, more memorable. Wordplay done well is a skill, and can make your brand appear more intelligent and respectful of your audience’s humour and preferences.