The Power of Humor and Positive Messaging

I came across this ad campaign a couple weeks ago (via the amazing blog Osocio) and have been thinking about the power of positive messaging in nonprofit advertising ever since. This marketing campaign is simple, funny and very effective because of its use humor to present its message.

This is definitely a refreshing change from the previous models of nonprofit advertising, which was focused on using intense imagery, melancholy music and powerful messaging to thrust a serious problem onto the viewer. These campaigns focus on sympathy and guilt to motivate the viewer to take action, which are exactly the feelings many of us are avoiding when we watch TV or surf the internet.  Compare the advertisement above with the famous Sarah McLachlan SPCA one and you will instantly see the difference.

Positive messaging is often much more effective because it better humanizes the issue by making it more accessible. The viewer is actually interested in the advertisement and often feels a genuine connection because they are laughing and enjoying themselves.

One perfect example of this is the recent Mama Hope video, in which a group of African men joke about how Hollywood films portray Africans. It is a very funny and light-hearted, while still getting its important message across.

These advertising campaigns succeed because they are truly enjoyable to watch. They are entertaining and more importantly, memorable. The overall message sticks with you, while the humor pushes you to share it with friends, which are essentially the two main goals of any advertising campaign.

Does humor have a place in nonprofit advertising? Is positive messaging actually more effective?

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