Humorous Ads Are on the Decline; Most Common on TV

March 1, 2022

This article is included in these additional categories:

Advertising Trends | Creative & Formats | Digital | Social Media | Television | TV Advertising | Video

In the past, consumers have said they find humorous ads to be enjoyable and memorable. More recently, they have also said that, at the moment, brand messaging that makes them laugh and entertains them appeals to them most. However, data from Kantar indicates that since the pandemic, there has been a decline in the use of humor in ads. 

Indeed, although the use of funny ads has been on a steady decline since the global recession in 2009, the use of light-hearted ads had seen a bit of a resurgence in the few years prior to the pandemic. However, the use of ads with no intended humor has seen a steady lift since 2020. 

In the ads researched by Kantar, only one-third incorporated some form of humor. TV is the channel that is most likely to have humorous ads, with 37% of ads on this medium having at least some form of humor, per Kantar’s analysis. This is compared to channels such as YouTube (30%), digital (overall; 28%) and Facebook/Instagram (24%), which have a comparably smaller share of ads that incorporate humor in some form. 

The decline in the use of humor in ads is surprising considering that Kantar’s analysis indicates that humorous ads tend to get a reaction, with these ads being more expressive, more involving and more distinct than ads that do not incorporate humor.

Not all humor is built the same, and its appeal can be dependent on the medium in which it’s being used. Visual or slapstick humor is the most used in advertising, with about 45% of humorous ads using this type of humor. However, Kantar points out that humor used on TikTok is fast-moving and satirical at times, while humor in ads on Facebook and Instagram tends to be more personal, which helps create emotional connections. In the meantime, humor on YouTube is described as more story-based and longer than other channels. 

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