Before you view videos, please read this introduction. Otherwise, you will be disappointed while watching. You expect that the videos make you laugh and probably that will not happen.
A life with humor is one of the human strategies to cope with one’s life and leads to strong conflicts with other coping strategies (e.g., life with religion, obeying to law and order, and taking care of others). A large portion of people do not have any need for humor and thus are unsusceptible to humor in advertising at all. Those people who want to satisfy their need for humor, differ with respect to the type of humor they enjoy. Some people’s humor is even very special.
Humorous cues do not elicit biologically prepared affective reactions. If some people have humor, this mental state is learned and contingent on several conditions.
TIME. What people find as funny depends on the era and epoch of time. To make yourself familiar with this aspect, watch paintings of Hieronymus Bosch (1450–1516). His paintings contain a multitude of absurd motifs and people living in the era of the Renaissance likely could laugh about these motifs. In the middle age in Germany, Dyl Ulenspegel (unknown author, 1515) and the Lalen Buch (unknown author 1597 “Schildbürgerstreiche”) were used as funny material. In the 19th century, people laughed about episodes of Heinrich Hoffmann’s (1845) Struwwelpeter. Wilhelm Busch even used means of racism to make people laugh (1882: Schmulchen Schievelbeiner). People should probably make fun of reputed weaknesses of others and thereby devaluate others. Often, the stories were educational beyond the entertainment value and aimed to enhance the self of the audience and their ingroups. In Germany, humor in print ads emerged at the beginning of the 1900s (e.g., ads promoting hairdryers of Sanitas). Understandably, before, during, and after WW I and WW II, humor was not used to advertise products. The famous HB manikin appeared in 1957 (“Halt, mein Freund, wer wird denn gleich in die Luft gehen?“). In other countries, humor in ads of yore was also often racist or played with gender roles. Commercials which evoked humorous reactions ten years ago unlikely are able create a humor reaction today.
OFFENDED AUTHORITY. In 1987, the “Tagesschau” comedy of the entertainer Rudi Carrell caused severe problems between Iran and Germany. Jan Böhmermann’s (2017) comedy evoked troubles between Turkey and Germany. Winnie the Pooh is a problem in China. Pope Benedikt XVI took legal action against the German magazine “Titanic”. At an even more severe level, remember the responses to the caricatures depicted in Jylands Posten (2005) and in Charlie Hebdo (2015). Basically, one major motive of humorous cues is laughing about the weaknesses of authorities. But authorities seldom tolerated that.
CULTURE. What people have learned as humor, is also strongly contingent on culture. For instance, Western humor strongly differs from Chinese humor or humor in Islamic countries.
EDUCATION, AGE, AND GENDER. People have to understand the cues which intend to elicit a humorous response. The ability of understanding depends on the educational level and the age of the audience. For older male people, it is even taboo to laugh about women if women want to be funny or if they are involved in a misadventure.
Sorry for the length of introduction, but humor is like medicine that needs directions for use. Advertising mirrors the means that made and make people laugh. Thus, do not expect that you really always will laugh. It depends on you.
Sexual Humor (Zoten)
- Axe (2007): Billions
- Fiat 500 (2012): Abarth
- Fiat (2017): Love Affair
- Ikea (2012): Farm Play Parents
- Sensodyne (2010): Sensitive Teeth
Reminiscence to the Spirit of Humor in the Past 100 Years