Humor: The ultimate foot in the door.

By Mary Knight
Partner, Executive Creative Director

As a creative, I’ve long known the power of building a meaningful emotional connection between a brand and its audience. Emotions make us (and our brands) feel more approachable. More likeable. More human.

There are many emotions in the creative’s quiver: laughter, empathy, heartstrings, to name just a few. The true genius, I believe, comes in understanding which emotion will best resonate with your brand. And respecting the role emotion plays in your message. Authenticity (a much-used but often-abused term) allows a relevant human truth to shine through. Because if a message comes across as insincere or borrowed, your intended moment of connection quickly devolves into a manipulative sales pitch.

A lot of brands make the mistake of following current moods or trends. That’s why we’re seeing loads of stories about overcoming adversity, pain or seemingly insurmountable odds these days. Unfortunately, these messages are often “bolted on” to a brand rather than coming from an inner truth and pure connection. Beer through tears? Sure, it’s easy to jump on the bandwagon. But it’s also easy to trigger people’s “BS factor.” That closes minds—and doors—to your brand in the future. Which, for a new generation that is less likely to be brand loyal to begin with, could mean big trouble.

It’s interesting that in tough times, when we need laughter the most, the industry is shying away from it. But for many brands a smile is the perfect antidote to times like these. Of course, I’m not suggesting going full Kate McKinnon or Trevor Noah here (who are funny, don’t get me wrong) for just any brand. Relevance, important when weaving any emotion into a brand, is imperative here. It’s that relatable human connection between your brand and your audience that will endear you to them. Yes, comedy is subjective. My mom, my son and I often don’t see funny quite the same way. But human truths apply to all of us. Any age. Any time. That “oh yeah, I can imagine myself or someone I know here” feeling. It makes us feel good. And if we’ve woven that human truth into a meaningful connection with the brand, it’s a win for everyone. People like to laugh. People like to smile. People like to like brands that make them feel clever, not manipulated.

While all emotions are powerful, laughter is my favorite. Yep, comedy—done well— is the toughest. But human truth, grounded in your brand’s promise, is the ultimate foot in the door.

I’ve been lucky enough to work on several comedy campaigns in my career. Here are a few of my favorite comedy spots.