African Journal of
Business Management

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Bus. Manage.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1993-8233
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJBM
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 4193

Full Length Research Paper

Is laughter, as the best medicine, the remedy for crisis’ pain? Use of humor in marketing communications

Nilgün Gürkaynak*, Ela Burcu Uçel and Mert Günerergin
Izmir University of Economics, Turkey.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 29 April 2011
  •  Published: 04 August 2011


Surrounded by staggering world-wide economic crisis and country specific financial burden, Turkish consumers feel pinched and marketers face the challenge to find a way to attract their attention to make them buy what they provide. In tough times, is humor the remedy for marketers? This paper aims to find an answer to this question and it examines the impact of humor in advertising. Alongside its advantages, humor also carries certain risks: will the viewer be bored after a few exposures; will it create an unexpected offense on the viewer? The paper investigates the views of various marketing experts on use of humor in marketing communication as to understand if such an approach will work with special focus given to the “psyche” of the population during a period of economic uncertainty and value consciousness. With the aims stated, the researchers conducted a series of expert interviews with marketing professionals, academicians and psychologists. Additionally, a focus group with senior year PR and marketing students was carried out. Findings confirm that humor is in fact an effective way to create awareness, stand out from the crowd, and form emotional bonds with the brand. It also has the potential to create buzz marketing, especially among younger consumers. Informants also mentioned risks of using humor such a shorter copy life spans; overshadowing the brand message; appealing  to narrower target groups while offending larger ones. Regarding the use of humor in economic crisis; findings do not support any further positive impact than the general benefits stated. The findings of this exploratory study will be used to develop a questionnaire for a follow-up quantitative phase.


Key words: Humor, marketing communications, economic crisis.