One of my biggest guilty pleasures is commercials. I’m the kind of person who arrives at the movies early enough to catch the ads. Without fail. No matter if your brand is B2B or B2C, there’s always room for comedy in your video campaigns. Using humor to shape your marketing is a tried-and-tested method of getting people on board with your message. So what is it that makes funny commercials so effective?

Why funny commercials are effective

Creating memorable, attention-grabbing ads is a core goal of every marketer. Think about a time where you discussed an advert outside the office or shared one on social media, was it a funny one? It’s highly likely your answer was yes because funny adverts are memorable. It’s far easier to remember a single joke like “Imagine that, Cats…with thumbs” than it is to remember the specific of a law firm offering you PPI claims.

Comedy makes you laugh, at least it’s intended to. This translates in your brain to a good experience, making it stick in your memory. On top of easily repeatable punchlines, this memorability is precisely why comedic commercials are so much more effective. If a potential customer can repeat it to someone, and share it on their social media, that’s free reach which means more leads and an effective commercial.

So in my (self-professed) expert opinion, here are 8 funny commercials to get some inspiration from.

Spotify – Let The Song Play

In Spotify’s latest ad campaign, they’re relating to an experience we can all get behind.

I mean who hasn’t been intentionally late because they had to wait for their favorite song to finish playing?

Spotify’s VP, global executive creative director, Alex Bodman, gives some insight behind their commercial: “The creative started with a simple insight that we rarely discuss, but everyone can relate to. Then, the team got to work on bringing the insight to life with a healthy dose of Spotify’s sense of humor. Hopefully, it makes people laugh while reminding them how much better driving is when you have the perfect soundtrack.”

Dollar Shave Club – Our Blades Are F***ing Great

You might recognize Dollar Shave Club from (seemingly) every sponsored video with YouTube influencers. This brand loves leveraging new media to get themselves out there.

And with more than 26 million views on YouTube, their commercial was a knockout.

Using one of their founders, Michael Dubin (who has a background in comedy acting) as the leading actor was a stroke of genius. The commercial’s content is funny, no doubt about it, but the fact that he’s the face makes the brand seem all the more authentic.

Within just 48 hours of the video’s launch, they saw 12,500 signups to their service. The director, Lucia Aniello, said that the entire video cost just $4,500 to create due to Dubin’s connections. She estimates that it would have cost most companies $50,000.

Metro Trains in Melbourne – Dumb Ways To Die

Who knew public services had it in them?

Metro Trains in Melbourne commissioned advertising agency McCann to create an animated video raising awareness of railway safety.

I don’t think anyone could have guessed how successful this little video would be: amassing over 180 million views, reaching the top 10 iTunes chart within 24 hours, becoming the third most shared ad of all time, and even spawning a game app with over 10 million downloads and 7 billion unique plays.

It’s campaigns like this that most marketers can only dream of pulling off. By turning a public service announcement into a humorous video, they completely went against the status quo and saw eye-watering success as a result.

McDonald’s McCafe – Madness

Are you tired of walking into a coffee shop and feeling like you need a PhD in Chemistry just to read the menu?

McDonald’s is banking on that being the case with their ad for McCafe.

By highlighting the negative qualities of their competitors, they’re able to showcase their own simple, affordable approach.

It’s not often we cheer on a major corporation against independent businesses, so kudos to McDonald’s for pulling it off and making us laugh doing it.

The National Lottery – #PleaseNotThem with James Blunt

Featuring a celebrity isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but James Blunt’s collaboration with The National Lottery in their #PleaseNotThem campaign is genius.

Creating a refreshing ad for the lottery is a real challenge. There’s only so many times we can watch what life would be like if we became suddenly rich before it gets tired and unconvincing.

So what was The National Lottery’s solution? They showed us how horrible it would be if certain celebrities won, including the likes of Piers Morgan and Katie Price.

And let’s be honest, if James Blunt really was like his depiction in this video, we’d want anyone else to win too.

Old Spice – The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

I particularly love this commercial because it shows how a brand can switch their targeting up when they discover new information.

Old Spice changed its target audience to women because it emerged that women make the majority of decisions when it comes to purchasing men’s body wash products.

And switching things up worked. The commercial won several awards that year, has over 56 million views, and led to a series of popular videos with Terry Crews.

Zendesk – Bad Phone Support in Real Life

You didn’t think I would leave out B2B brands, did you?

Just because you’re not selling to consumers, doesn’t mean your commercials should be dry and boring.

Zendesk’s “customer service software” doesn’t sound super hilarious to you? Think again.

They used humor to showcase the service they can offer in a creative comedy sketch that would give SNL a run for their money.

Cisco – A Special Valentine’s Day Gift

Cisco’s high powered-router (ASR9000) isn’t exactly what you’d consider to be the most romantic of products…

Which is exactly why they created this valentine’s day commercial claiming it as the perfect gift.

In the video, they manage to streamline a very complex product into a simple, classy, and funny ad. Furthermore, they found a way to highlight its very technical features in a way that genuinely interests their target audience while amusing everyone else.

Nice job Cisco! It just goes to show that no matter what you’re selling, there’s always room to make people laugh.

How to generate funny commercial ideas

It isn’t easy to create funny commercials. Humour is extremely subjective so creating inoffensive, wide reaching, and actually funny content is difficult.

There’s many ways to start generating funny commercial ideas. The first is to research other comedic ads. Analyse them and understand why they worked well, if there’s an easily repeatable punchline, and whether it is in line with the brand.

Secondly, don’t take yourself too seriously. Making yourself the punchline of the joke can often work well because it puts you on the same level as the customer, they laugh with you rather than at you.

Keep it simple. Don’t try to overcomplicate things. If you’re trying to tell a feature length story for the sake of a single joke, people will get bored, lose concentration, and it likely will be forgotten. That single repeatable punchline is probably enough on it’s own.

Stay light-hearted. If your content or message are too serious or sombre you’ll lose the edge of a comedic set-up to people’s more serious emotions. Don’t be afraid to go silly either, that tone instantly puts a viewer in a more comedic mood. Finding balance within these parameters is difficult but essential for writing comedic commercials

If you aren’t used to writing ads, or specifically comedy, try activities with your team and see what gets them laughing. Story cards can be a great way to start this process, choose a place, a character, and a problem, and see what jokes people can create within those stories. Make it slapstick, make it a love story between ridiculous characters (or even inanimate objects).

Finally, test it. Major production houses don’t just send out ads without some testing, this can be with customers, team members, or just members of the public. If it falls flat you know to go back to the drawing board.

Want to make original content but don’t think funny commercials are up your business alley?

Scroll through our previous post on free content-making design resources.

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