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“Muffin me”: how to pitch humour to serious clients

Nationwide advert uses humour to resonate with customers
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THIS ARTICLE HAS BEEN UPDATED

In honour of Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day, The Freelance Informer looks at the art of humour and how solopreneurs should embrace it to stand out from the competition

Humour, when used strategically, can be a powerful tool to cut through the noise and propel not only your services as a creative business owner but also those of your clients.

However, before unleashing your inner comedian, take a deep dive into your own brand identity. Do your existing materials show a hint of playfulness? A quirky headline here, a lighthearted social media post there? Understanding your existing voice is crucial to ensure the humour aligns seamlessly.

Once you work on your own humour skills you can aim to transfer them to your clients’ campaigns and content.

Humour: beyond the giggles

A funny campaign isn’t just about laughs. It’s about building trust and forging emotional connections. A well-placed laugh can make a brand instantly more relatable and memorable. Imagine two ads for accounting software: one dry and technical, the other self-deprecating and relatable. Which ad do you think would stick in your mind?

Starting subtle

Not everyone is sold on humour immediately. If your client seems hesitant, start small. Witty headlines, playful visuals, or a touch of self-deprecating humour can be a great way to ease them in. You could solidify your point by providing examples of successful campaigns in similar industries that leveraged humour effectively.

Humor with a purpose

Humour isn’t just entertainment. It should be a strategic tool contributing to your marketing goals. Explain to your clients how humour can help them achieve specific objectives, whether it’s increasing brand awareness, driving sales, or boosting engagement. Back it up with data and insights from past campaigns that demonstrate the positive impact of humour on similar projects.

Collaboration is key

The best humour feels authentic. Partner with your client to brainstorm humourous anecdotes, scenarios and ideas that fit their brand voice and industry generalisations. This collaborative approach fosters a sense of ownership, making them more invested in the success of the campaign.

Testing the waters

Start small with a pilot campaign that incorporates a touch of humour. Use the results to refine your approach and demonstrate the effectiveness of humour to the client. Remember, even the most serious brand can benefit from a sprinkle of well-placed humour.

By following these steps, you can transform humour from a gamble into a strategic tool, winning over clients and propelling your marketing campaigns to new heights. Just remember: know your audience, keep it respectful, and be prepared to refine your approach as you go.

Recent examples of humour for inspiration

Regan Warner, executive creative director at McCann London, highlights in a recent Campaign article some of the latest adverts to raise our spirits including those that take the humorous approach. One such example is Nationwide’s “Good way to bank” campaign featuring Dominic West, “an unnamed executive at the fictional A.N.Y. Bank, and his more perceptive assistant, played by Sunil Patel, with this spot poking fun at corporate arrogance. It even refers to a word that rhymes with “banker”.

Warner explains, “The ad is designed to showcase how, in contrast to many shareholder-owned financial services companies, Nationwide’s member-owned model focuses on customer needs.”

In this video clip of the Nationwide ad, the phrase “muffin me” may just become a national catchphrase.

UPDATE

However, in April it was reported that the TV advert was to be pulled from the airwaves after competing banks complained that the advert’s messaging was inferring Nationwide was not closing branches like its competitors when in fact it has closed branches. Looks like the last laugh is on us, folks, the banking customers.

Agency: New Commercial Arts Creative team: Ian Heartfield, chief creative officer; Steve Hall, creative director; Dan Seager, creative director Client: Richard Warren Production company: Hungry Man Director: Bryan Buckley (Source: Campaign)

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