Post Thumb

Brands and creators have understood that if they are able to tickle the funny bones of audiences, or at least bring a smile on their faces, they can connect better and strike a chord with them. And there are enough metrics that have declared that a funny piece of content gets more hits and shares than the rest.

And in times like these, when Covid-19 has filled social media with a lot of negative noise and everyone is already stressed out in their confinements, all we need is laughter to be shared.

However, trying hands with humorous content can be risky because consumers can be offended by any failed attempt. And we all have been a witness to that!

When back in 2014 Scoopwhoop published a listicle ‘16 Thoughts That Went Through Everyone’s Mind When The Earthquake Happened’, when a massive earthquake had hit Nepal and some parts of India, it received a massive outrage and the article was later taken down, with an apology from the editor.
Very recently, the 5 Star ‘Do Nothing’ ad campaign received flak on social media for being ‘reckless’. made an attempt to understand why audiences are consuming humorous content more than ever during the Covid outbreak. Content experts also laid out a few tips to ensure attempts to spread laughter do not go wrong.

One reason could be that the moment you log on to social platforms or watch news or read newspapers, waves of depressing news leave you with a sinking feeling.

Sandeep Balan

So much so that Sandeep Balan, Partner, Branded Content, Spring Marketing Capital, started avoiding news sources, just glancing through newspapers or skipping news channels altogether to keep his spirits high in these testing times, than being bogged down by the negativity that’s floating around.

He said in times like these, we need or look out proactively for content that can help us distract ourselves. Humorous content does this really well and helps users distract themselves.

Spring Marketing Capital had released a series of content videos through #OpenLetters on social media for its client, which leaves audiences smiling.

There is a familiar comfort in light-hearted humour. Humour also has a way of cutting through your defences, show people a fresh perspective or help seed an idea that they were otherwise averse to.

Petal Gangurde

“Such an effort should be towards trying to put a smile on someone's face. You can also use it to instruct audiences or to instil a sense of hope through positive reinforcement that all will be well eventually,” said Petal Gangurde, VP Marketing, XYXX Apparels.

Joy Chatterjee

“Humorous content has always been liked and appreciated by consumers,” said Joy Chatterjee, Deputy General Manager Marketing at Mankind Pharma.

The company has never failed to tickle the funny bone of the consumers and won their hearts with its quirky social media campaigns for its brand Manforce Condoms.

Chatterjee said when you are surrounded by negative news, it’s always a good idea to engage the consumer with some light-hearted, hopeful and fun content that could give them hope to sail through such tough times and at the same time kill their boredom.

The internet is always looking for humorous content. This is evident from the abundance of comedy content available online.

Harikrishnan Pillai

Harikrishnan Pillai, Co-founder and CEO, TheSmallBigIdea, believes that humour is a classic escapism and during these times, audiences could use some escapism.

Karthik Nagarajan

“I think it is safe to say that pandemic or no pandemic, the audience had always had a thing for brands that get humour. This has especially been true in the last decade. In a pandemic, I have seen them swing both ways. These are overwhelming times and content that talks to latent emotions work really well if it strikes the right chord and at the same time, content that is funny makes people engage and share instantaneously,” said Karthik Nagarajan, Chief Content Officer, Wavemaker India.

There are numerous reports that state how using humour intelligently is all but a sure fire way to stand out in a crowd. But being half-witted is surely not advisable.

Utilising humorous content but intelligently!

Brands surely have to be careful while embracing humour. Humour is a double-edged sword. As appreciative as audiences are of humour, they are also as touchy.

"Be sensitive. Your humour is someone else’s pain point. On a day you could get away with murder but an innocent ‘funny’ post might bring your brand down. I believe the audience’s taste has evolved and people appreciate self-deprecating humour in a generic sense. So our current state around washing utensils and long Zoom calls make for a great snack. So anything that is current and situational will fly. Brands that are light and naturally render into this space have embraced this. They did a good job of it even before the pandemic,” said Pillai.

“The only word of caution while experimenting with this in time of crisis is that you can’t come across as an irresponsible brand or lacking in empathy given the pandemic or encouraging a disregard for safety/hygiene in your content pieces while trying to evoke humour,” suggested Balan.

And this holds true for the production team and crew coming together to create such content; as strict safety protocols and checks need to be followed in the content creation process as well.

Gangurde said the one question to ask yourself as a brand manager is, does such humorous content align with your brand attributes?

She believes a lot is also dependent on the insight that the humorous content piece is based on its focus and the context.

“Keep it simple, universal and about shared experiences. It is a safe space to play and it will end on a positive note. Pandering crass content as humour is going to result in negative perception building but brands do it all the time for temporary higher engagement scores. If you are a brand that has a value system in place, be sensitive to the world and its challenges as opposed to being tone-deaf and simply raking in some views and shares. The former will make you a brand of repute, the latter just another attention-seeking brand,” she said.

These are great times to stand up for something. Brands that genuinely care and are able to do something for the larger good are favoured, especially by today’s young. But it is equally important that witty content should not be forced.

Audiences are looking for 'real' and they are looking for a brand that is cool enough to hang with them. Talking about product USP when your city is burning is neither real nor cool.

And the young of today prefer brands that take a stand and stay empathetic on social media, said Nagarajan.

Also, during the pandemic, brands have all the more opportunities to connect with their consumers. According to recent surveys, people are actually spending good amount of time in exploring social media platforms and VOD platforms that too along with their families.

Chatterjee advised brands to utilise this opportunity and build the brand’s message/ communication in more cheerful and interesting way because now they have the time to curate a good story along with brand’s message.

Gangurde advised, “Do not produce such piece of content with the intention of making it 'go viral', that is the best way to ensure it does not. Laugh with, not at people. Humour at the expense of someone or a community is especially in bad taste. Seriously if you are doing it for the heck of it or because it is fashionable to do this, then the joke is on you!” 

Experts agreed that if brands have even the sliver of doubt that such pieces can be offensive, don't post it.

The golden rule here is to remember: You will never regret the joke you don't tell.