Humor in Advertising (1973).

Essay by FELIPE1939University, Master'sA+, November 2003

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Humor in Advertising (1973)


This article a major and pioneering study on humor in advertising, and many posterior articles used its results and explore them further. It is a given fact that marketers have increasingly employed humor as the motivation basis to make an advertisement more appealing and persuasive. This practice is based on the belief that the humor can be an effective persuasive tool. However, there is no straightforward evidence of the effectiveness of humor. There two sets of opinions concerning to humor. First, some argue that humor is a universal language that humanizes advertising, allowing the communicator to speak to the audience on their own level. On the other hand, opponents think that humor is not universal (humor might be differ in different geographic areas). Also, humor might not e persuasive in the long run, because it wears out if used repeatedly. Employing humor involves some risk: If humor does work out, it turns to be a disaster; if it does, it can be very effective (Phillips 1968).

Furthermore, humor can be very effective if used as a means and not as an end in itself (Hepner, 1963).

After this the first empirical questions arises: Is humor an effective means of persuasion, or is a humorous message more influential than a serious version of the same appeal? There is no unanimity on the answer of this question. This study has the following structure: First, it examines the concept of humor; Then, the discussion is divided into two major sections; (1) humor and creative strategy and (2) humor and vehicle selection. Finally, criteria for humor research are developed and future directions indicated.


Define the word humor with a scientific precision is a very difficult task. Several approaches have been employed to explain this concept. The first...