As social marketers we are often working on issues that are far from funny. We want our audiences to see our work and decide to make a better, healthier, and safer choice. However, often what is grabbing their valuable attention isn’t the solemn PSA or earnest ad placement urging folks to make a change. It’s silly cat videos and Call Me Maybe video parodies.
Using humor can be a powerful way to grab attention. It seems as though in a sea of stressful work and busy lives, that many will take the time to have a good laugh, and even pass it on to a friend. So why not use humor as the hook for a powerful behavior change message?
Last year at a conference, I passed a poster presentation on Avoid the Stork, The University of Iowa College of Public Health’s campaign to reduce unintended pregnancies. I chuckled as I started reading, intrigued and entertained enough to not only read the entire poster but look up the campaign once home. The campaign has since come to an end but still lives online through humorous and to the point content. Avoid the Stork featured a rather large Stork with a baby strapped to it ready for delivery. It was featured in several humorous scenarios as a reminder to use contraceptives. I was impressed by not only the creative but the clarity of the message behind the creative.
And I must not be alone, the campaign noted positive results including a significant decline in unintended pregnancies statewide. Now that’s something to smile about!
So tell me, do you agree that being funny can communicate a serious message? What campaigns have you seen do this effectively?