Using Humor To Stand Out From The Crowd

From the Dollar Shave Club’s blunt and comedic approach to YouTube videos, to the snappy quips found in the Pistachio TV ads, humor has become a successful marketing tool. In an increasingly stressful world, humor in marketing adds a positive feel that uplifts those who see it, providing a way to engage more closely with your audience.

Earlier this year, Liberty Mutual launched a new campaign that introduced LiMu Emu and Doug as “the Dynamic Duo of the Insurance World.”  The emu and his human partner Doug play off the cop buddy scenario, hunting down situations where people commit the crime of paying too much for something.

Just the sight of an emu dressed as a cop made me chuckle, imagining the silly situations this duo gets into while saving people from paying too much for their insurance.

Recently, I spoke to Emily Fink, CMO of Liberty Mutual about using humor as a way to differentiate the brand from other insurance companies.

Humor Keeps Brands Memorable

In making the audience feel connected, brands like Liberty Mutual have also found a way to stay top of mind. Their audience continues thinking about the humorous ads and wants to share with others what made them laugh. 

As Fink notes, "Humor drives memorability. The funnier the ads, the more people tend to remember them. We see humorous ads have stronger brand memorability when we look at Nielsen data in the category.”

Liberty Mutual recently infused humor into its “Truth Tellers” spots, where the Statue of Liberty serves as a backdrop. When the company started getting positive results from that shift, it knew it was the right direction. This new campaign builds on the success have garnered from using humor. 

Where Humor Works Best

While humor works, it may be difficult for all brands to capture the benefits of this emotion. However, Fink believes humor becomes even more important when a brand don’t have a tangible product to pitch.

She adds, “Insurance is harder to visualize than an automobile or breakfast cereal. That’s why humor has helped us stand out from other brands, while still allowing us to highlight the benefits we deliver for our intended audience. Therefore, along with the humor, your brand must have a message that people will make memorable.”

Making It Your Own

However, when it comes to planning what to use to evoke this humor, there are certain elements where a brand may appear to be copying the competition. For example, an Ad Age article on Liberty Mutual’s new campaign concludes, "Liberty Mutual is taking a page from its insurance peers Geico and Farmers by featuring an animal in its marketing."

Fink’s response is that they are doing anything but that. “The insurance category is certainly a cluttered space, so it's good to stand out so the audience remembers our brand. However, we are standing out in two ways that illustrates we are not copying these other insurance brands.”

She adds, “First, by adding characters, we are creating a physical manifestation of our company. Insurance is invisible -- unlike soup or cars or sneakers -- so characters help to tell the brand story. This brings it to life and adds meaning that our audience understands. Second, we are introducing our new positioning that we customize your coverage so you only pay for what you need.”

And, in looking at the other insurance ads that feature animals, it’s easy to see that they are being used for comedic presence in different ways and for varied messaging.

In all cases, humor is helping to market the value offered and offering everyone a good laugh. Considering all the negative media and pressures these days, we all could enjoy more humor in marketing campaigns.

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