To tickle the funny bone, or to revive the past: that is the adman’s question

By September 26, 2017Uncategorized

What’s the arsenal? The perennial question the adman faces.

Should I “tickle, tickle” till the viewers laugh their guts out? Or should I walk them down the sweet memory lanes where bystanders sport 60s overalls?

A pertinent question lying at the creative director’s desk like the newly-designed artwork waiting for approval. So, what exactly do the two kinds of advertising do? One is called humorous advertising and the other is called nostalgic advertising or marketing. Why are these two objects being pulled out of the magical hat time and again to resonate with modern viewers and millennials alike?

Maybe because magic is what the adman wants to create. And magic that stays with the viewer, reminding him repetitively of the intrinsic qualities of the product and leaving a lasting impression on his mind, one that doesn’t find an end until translated into a sale for the brand. The magic of creating brilliant ads and the magic of setting the cash registers ringing for the client!

Whether it’s the smell of your mother’s home-cooked food or your favorite song from the college sophomore year, there are numerous occasions, sensory objects, inputs, and social situations that reek of sweet memories from adolescence and ignite a yearning for a time from the past. This sense of nostalgia, or mawkish sentimentality, is what advertisers and marketers turn into a full-fledged marketing strategy called nostalgia marketing.

Nostalgia marketing is all around, like a swollen river engulfing the marketing agendas of advertisers; whether it is fonts used on packaging or the commercial that uses a film star from yester years or the radio ad that uses a tune created to take you back in time, every copywriter worth his salt wants to cash in on nostalgia.  At times, this is the default or accidental strategy because the product is required to carry on its tagline or creative strategy from decades ago (a classic example is the Vicco ads in India) while, at other times, it is purposefully designed and intentional to take viewers back in time to evoke peppermint-scented memories.

Please read an article on the power of nostalgia marketing on

This brings us to the next question – how likeable is humor in advertising? Should one poke fun at its own brand in order to generate a higher brand recall? Is that justified? Evidently so, going by the number of funny ads doing the rounds these days. The consensus among the advertising fraternity is that humor sells, the warning of “humor ruining the product’s prospects” by some notwithstanding. It is also a general notion among marketers that humor makes viewers more open and receptive to the ad than any other emotion does.

Humorous ads can often border on the obnoxious and that’s a delicate balance that the advertiser needs to maintain. Audiences that are entertained are more likely to be persuaded than audiences who remain bored or uninterested – so engaging the audience through humor is an age-old tactic used by advertisers. Vodafone’s pug commercial, with the dog following the child everywhere and the tagline “wherever you go, our network follows”, is an example of humor in advertising action. The ad has been so adored by viewers that it became an instant hit all over India when it was launched with the pug having an immense fan following.

Please read an article on entertainment in brand awareness on

By: Arunima Takiar, Content Creation Architect @ ISD Global