A Look into the Most Memorable Ad Campaigns Using Humor Marketing

A Look into the Most Memorable Ad Campaigns Using Humor Marketing

Years ago, brands took the extra mile to have their advertisements seen by the masses through iconic, million-dollar Super Bowl ads, billboards, digital signs in metropolis cities like New York and Toronto, bus stops, anywhere that can attract as many pairs of eyes as possible. A lot of work goes into marketing campaigns from the initial pitch all the way to psychological tactics to increase buyer attention.

Now, with the Internet, people are inundated with advertisements so much so that it can be difficult to tell the difference between natural advertorial content. Marketing ads use the viewer’s emotional connections to compassion, patriotism, and humor. When a commercial has a strong emotional impression on viewers, the more likely they will remember the brand.

Humor as Marketing

Funny marketing ads usually work best with commercial brands as opposed to charity or political organizations. Sometimes companies nail the right amount of humor that increases brand loyalty and popularity. Others shoot their shot and just miss the target sometimes entering dangerous territory that may put the brand in hot water with the audience. But there is the idea that any publicity, good or bad, is still publicity. If a marketing ad causes controversy, it will gain more attention from supporters as well as critics.

The following ad campaigns have become the classics of clever marketing ads. Revisiting past campaigns will show how humor works to make people laugh, either in amusement or bewilderment.

Controversially Amusing Ad Campaigns

Popeyes’ Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Last August, Popeyes released its newest menu item the highly anticipated spicy chicken sandwich. Upon its release, the sandwich sold out in Popeyes across the country due to the extremely high demand. What unintentionally fueled the growing demand was the Twitter spat between Popeyes and Chick-Fil-A with each chicken-vendor competing to offer the best spicy chicken sandwich.


In 2017, a marketing campaign with Kendall Jenner was pulled after a wave of backlash that criticized Pepsi for trivializing the Black Lives Matter movement. The ad portrayed young, attractive people holding vague protest signs congregating in front of a line of police officers. The climax of the commercial saw Jenner hand a can of Pepsi to an officer, which received laughable, unrealistic celebratory applause implying the simple act brought peace. This was a high-profile case of bad publicity, which still resulted in publicity for Pepsi and Kendall.

Classic Memorable Humor Ad Campaigns

Old Spice

Isaiah Mustafa, the Old Spice Guy, is the well-known brand ambassador for Old Spice’s hypermasculine-themed body products. The constant repetition of, “look at your man, now look at me,” pokes fun at unrealistic masculinity standards where men use Bear Claw deodorant and are always shirtless to boast their perfectly chiseled torsos.


The cuddly toilet bear mascots for Charmin give the bathroom humor a bit more warmth and comfort. The blue, bumbling bear family shares the reasons why Charmin toilet paper stands out from regular toilet paper.

Honorable mentions outside of the United States go to Tim Horton’s Roll Up the Rim to Win and the Japanese Sakeru Gum campaigns.