Over the different weeks I have discussed many different techniques and methods that companies use within advertising. I have spoke about sex within advertising and the scientific theory surrounding this and why it attracts our attention. This week however I am going to mention the technique which I feel has the greatest effect on myself as a consumer. The technique that I feel has the greatest impact on my short term and long term memory regarding the advert and the product that it is trying to sell. This method is humour! I feel that the best adverts are those that use humour successfully, the best way for me to remember an advert tends to be those that make me laugh in some way. Although it doesn’t just have the greatest effect on memory but also increases positive feelings towards the product. Therefore this week I am going to discuss this and look at the theory behind this to determine whether it is just me it has this effect on. In terms of laughter as just an emotion it can be very important for general health effects. Can it improve our health and lower stress levels? Sondra Kornblat (2009) seems to think so and explains this within her book ‘ A Better Brain at Any Age: The Holistic Way to Improve Your Memory, Reduce Stress, and Sharpen Your Wits’. She explains this stating that laughter can lower blood pressure as well as increases oxygenation of the blood. Within the book she explained how laughter can decrease stress levels which is important as stress can cause problems such as decreased immune system response (Griffin, 2008). Therefore laughter is thought of as a significant emotion, and in a positive way because of the way it makes us feel. Laughter could be considered the highest positive emotion and one of the most expressive. It also appears that it is contagious (Scott, 2007). Research found that the brain responds to the sound and sight of laughter and in turn puts the expression on your face. Therefore showing that our brain tries to repeat positive emotions rather than negative emotions. Does laughter then have an effect on your attention? It is very important for marketers to attract the attention of the consumer in order to form strong congnitive links with the advertisement and the brand (Pieters, Warlop & Wedel, 2002).Research has shown that it does in fact have a positive effect on your attention (Lammers, 1991). This was backed up by Speck (1987) who found that adverts that contained humorous content attracted more attention than advert which contained no humorous content. This is one of the reasons why up to 55% of advertising research executives believe humour to be superior within adverts than non-humorous content (Madden & Weinberger, 1984). Although these effects are found within TV advertising (Stewart & Furse, 1986) they are not just limited to this type of advertising, they can be extended to other forms of advertising. Studies have shown that humour within magazine ad’s increase attention towards the advert (Madden & Weinberger, 1982). Moreover research has shown this to be effective within radio ads showing that visual stimuli is not essential in order to be effective (Weinberger & Campbell, 1991). Does it always work then? Surely if laughter increases attention all companies would be using this technique. Therefore this suggests that not all humour is successful and there is a technique to be most effective. It has been shown that humour which is related to the product is much more successful in gaining attention and increasing opinion of the product (Duncan, 1979). However if it is completed unrelated and in-congruent with the product it has been found to be unsuccessful (Madden, 1982). By finding ways to integrate your product with humour is vital in attaining attention.
This isn’t just important for attracting attention but also is linked to memory and how well people remember the advertisement. Friendman & Friendman (1979) found that message memory improves when the spokesperson and the products are associated and congruent. This has just the same effect for pictures that are congruent with their message they are displaying (Edell & Staelin, 1983). This has then been suggested that to improve memory for the advertisement companies need to make sure the humour used is related to the advert (Sternthal & Craig, 1973). Finally does this have a link towards the overall impression and attitude towards the brand and product? Evidence has shown that humour increase attention and improves memory towards the product, but more importantly does it change opinions about the product. Sternthal & Craig (1973) found that using humour can increase the likeliness towards the source of the laughter. This does not just seem to be limited to advertising however and has even been found to be effective within the classroom. Byrant & Zillmann (1989) found that teachers who used humour within the classroom managed to positively influence students opinions towards education. These teachers were also rated much higher on character scales (Gruner, 1967). This is showing the effectiveness of humour in general and shows we elicit more positive feelings towards items when it is used. This is obviously extremely important within marketing and advertising in order to try and increase consumers feelings towards your product. Not only did it increase the liking of the ad (Gelb & Pickett, 1983), it was also shown that humour increased the liking towards the brand too (Duncan & Nelson, 1985). This then leads on to the most important part for a brand which is purchase intentions. Eisend (2009) showed that a humorous ad can increase attitude towards the ad as well as the brand but most importantly can increase peoples purchase intentions towards the brand. Hence humour is very important within branding and this explains why I feel humour within advertisements have the greatest effect on me as a consumer.