Use of Humor in Advertising Steadies

September 11, 2023

Following a years-long drop in the use of humor in advertising, updated data from Kantar indicates that the decline has arrested, with the use of humor steady this year after a slight rebound last year. However, the use of humor in ads continues to display strong differences when sorted by medium.

Roughly one-third (32%) of all ads include some form of humor, according to Kantar’s data. Radio is the channel for which ads are most apt to use humor, with 55% of radio ads containing humor. TV ads are also above-average in this regard, with 41% of TV ads tracked by Kantar including some form of humor. The use of humor in TV ads rose slightly last year and remains elevated this year in comparison with 2021.

Digital ads, meanwhile, are less likely to leverage humor, with the 27% of ads using this form of entertainment being slightly below the average across media, and half the rate of radio ads. Unlike the traditional media channels analyzed, the use of humor in digital ads has been on a steady descent for the past 5 years. Kantar theorizes that this may be due to humorous ads being more of a brand-building tool, whereas digital ads tend to often be used for activation.

The analysis does note that some digital platforms’ ads are more apt to use humor than others: namely, ads on X (formerly Twitter) and YouTube are more likely to contain humor than those on websites.

Meanwhile, ads in print (15%) and outdoor ads (13%) are the least likely of the various media analyzed to leverage humor.

There’s much less variance on a regional basis: ads in Europe (36%) are the most likely to contain humor, while those in the Asia-Pacific region (27%) are the least likely.

Finally, ads for Establishments, as well as Food and Drink ads, are the most likely to leverage humor (40% of ads), while those for Public Information / Services (11%) are the least likely to do so.

Research has shown that consumers prefer ads that are humorous and entertaining, with young people slightly more likely than their older counterparts to express a preference for funny ads.

For more, check out the full analysis here.


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