Being Funny To Help Folks Get Serious

Mar 22

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.

Avoid the Stork

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?

This entry was posted on Friday, March 22nd, 2013 at 2:22 pm and is filed under Behavior Change, Social Marketing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to “Being Funny To Help Folks Get Serious”

  1. Great points, Megan. I really enjoyed the “Dumb Ways to Die” campaign that Carrie pointed out in a recent blog post: http://smexchange.ogilvypr.com/2012/11/dumb-ways-to-die-a-smart-way-to-convey-a-safety-message/. Also, the website on Avoid the Stark is really clever…it does a great job of carrying the campaign theme throughout.

    Thanks for sharing!