Money runs the world, whether you buy it or not. And let’s be honest, no one is going to get any money from others unless there is something to sell and somebody to buy what they’re exchanging. A very simple way to try to sell something is to use entertainment to sell it. Humor always works as it is a form of diversion. You focus the observer or listener’s consciousness on the joke of the ad and they almost forget what it is that you’re trying to market. But they do recognize enough to at least remember the product name. If the ad was funny enough, they may just go out and purchase the product.
You don’t have to look very far to find humor in sales either. It’s everywhere. You see it every day on some of the most entertaining commercials on television; you hear it in between songs on your preferred radio station and see it in print in your favorite newspaper and magazine every time you thumb through the pages. Let’s face it, most newspapers and magazines are more ads than they are news. Otherwise, the price you’d have to pay for them would match national debt. See, there’s some humor for you.
The long list of ridiculous ads goes on forever. From the early days of television, we’ve had some real masterpieces. Who can forget a commercial that was voted one of the most amusing of all time? It was an ad for Alka Seltzer. The wife is laying in bed trying to sleep and the husband is sitting up on the edge of the bed moaning over and over “I can’t believe I ate the WHOLE thing”. Finally after several of these complaints the wife tells him to take his Alka Seltzer. After the voice-over guy finishes telling us how Alka Seltzer will instantly relieve our upset stomach, we go after the husband and wife for the punch line of the joke. The wife asks the husband if he took his Alka Seltzer. His reply. “The WHOLE thing”. A true masterpiece.
A few years later, in 1969, there was yet another commercial of a guy who is making a commercial supporting what appears to be meatballs. He has just one line, “Mama mia, that’s a spicy meatball”. But each time he tries the line he keeps messing it up. The problem is, he has to keep taking a bite of the meatballs before he speaks his line. Well, after some time, he’s eaten so much that he’s got an upset stomach. Luckily, there’s some Alka Seltzer around and after taking it he feels much better and presents the line to perfection. But then the oven door pops open and they have to do a retake again. The last line of the advertisement is the director saying, “Let’s take a break for lunch”. Another classic commercial that is just as funny today. Unfortunately, the ad was pulled because Italian Americans thought it was degrading them.
These are just two examples of how humor has been used to sell products to the buying public. Yes, it is very powerful.