An issue of much concern to advertisers is the problem of commercial wearout, or the tendency of a message to lose its effectiveness when it is seen repeatedly. Wearout may occur for several reasons. One is inattention; consumers may no longer attend to an ad after several exposures, so the message loses its effectiveness. Another reason is that consumers may become annoyed at seeing an ad many times.
While wearout is a problem for any type of commercial, some advertising experts argue that humorous ads wear out much sooner than other formats because once the viewer gets the joke, the ad becomes boring. However, advocates of humor argue that ads filled with yuks are effective longer because consumers can tolerate a well-executed humorous commercial again and again.
So who is right? Well, a study conducted by Research Systems Corp. concludes that neither view is correct. Humorous ads wear out at the same rate as other types of ads, whether the commercials include comparative messages, celebrity spokespeople, or other approaches. According to the study, the average ad's effectiveness wears out within eight weeks.
Not everyone agrees with this study. Another research firm, Video Storyboard Tests, claims that humorous ads lose their effectiveness faster than other ads. Says the company's president, "The first time the ad is funny, the second time the ad is acceptable, and the third time it is a bore."
While individual humorous ads may get old fast, advertisers often get around this problem by using humorous campaigns consisting of many different commercials. For example, the Little Caesar's pizza chain, FedEx, Energizer batteries, Pepsi, and Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser and Bud Light beer) have made
effective use of humor by constantly developing new commercials and working them into the ad rotation.
One media consultant argues that it's quite simple to determine if a humorous spot or campaign is wearing out. "If the viewers laugh with you, you can be in it for the long haul. It's when they laugh at you that you're in trouble."
Sources: Dottie Enrico,"Humorous Touch Resonates with Consumers," USA Today, May 13,1996, p. 3B; Kevin Goldman,"Ever Hear the One about the Funny Ad?" The Wall Street Journal, Nov.2,1993, p.Bll.
their feeling toward the product or service. And humor can distract the receiver from counterarguing against the message.63
Critics argue that funny ads draw people to the humorous situation but distract them from the brand and its attributes. Also, effective humor can be difficult to produce and some attempts are too subtle for mass audiences. And, as discussed in IMC Perspective 6-4, there is concern that humorous ads may wear out faster than serious appeals.
Clearly, there are valid reasons both for and against the use of humor in advertising. Not every product or service lends itself to a humorous approach. A number of studies have found that the effectiveness of humor depends on several factors, including the type of product and audience characteristics.64 For example, humor has been more prevalent and more effective with low-involvement, feeling products than high-involvement, thinking products.65 An interesting study surveyed the research and creative directors of the top 150 advertising agencies.66 They were asked to name which 186 communications objectives are facilitated through the appropriate situational use of
• Humor does aid awareness and attention, which are the objectives best achieved by its use.
• Humor may harm recall and comprehension in general.
• Humor may aid name and simple copy registration.
• Humor may harm complex copy registration.
• Humor may aid retention.
• Humor does not aid persuasion in general.
• Humor may aid persuasion to switch brands.
• Humor creates a positive mood that enhances persuasion.
• Humor does not aid source credibility.
• Humor is generally not very effective in bringing about action/sales.
• Creatives are more positive on the use of humor to fulfill all the above objectives than research directors are.
• Radio and TV are the best media in which to use humor; direct mail and newspapers are least suited.
• Consumer nondurables and business services are best suited to humor; corporate advertising and industrial products are least suited.
• Humor should be related to the product.
• Humor should not be used with sensitive goods or services.
• Audiences that are younger, better educated, upscale, male, and professional are best suited to humor; older, less educated, and downscale groups are least suited to humor appeals.
Figure 6-6 Summary of top ad agency research and creative directors' opinions regarding humor humor in terms of media, product, and audience factors. The general conclusions of this study are shown in Figure 6-6.
The final controllable variable of the communication process is the channel, or medium, used to deliver the message to the target audience. While a variety of methods are available to transmit marketing communications, as noted in Chapter 5 they can be classified into two broad categories, personal and nonpersonal media
Was this article helpful?
Co-op Mailing means that two or more businesses share in the cost and distribution of a direct mail campaign. It's kind of like having you and another non-competing business split the cost of printing, assembling and mailing an advertising flyer to a shared same market base.