Back to Basics: Comedy in Advertising

Is it me, or are commercials getting funnier? After a thoroughly lackluster 2021 Super Bowl (from an advertising standpoint – dominated by cryptocurrency companies trying to get us to scan QR codes from our flat screens), in recent months we’ve seen a return to comedy-based advertising in a trend I expect to continue for years to come.

I can remember a time when “Where’s the beef?” and “I love you, man!” were so pervasive to the public consciousness that they were made into bumper stickers, T-shirts, and calendars! What Wendy’s and Bud Light discovered back then is still true today: the key to transcending the traditional 30-second TV spot and becoming part of the pop culture is laughter.

But this wasn’t always the case. After a year or two where ad execs tried to get our attention by being confusing, insulting or just plain creepy, they’ve finally realized their mistakes and are making amends in big and hilarious ways. The result is more attention to the ads and, in turn, the products they promote.

There’s another major hurdle to making connections nowadays: user-friendly devices. Today’s commercials are not often viewed in real time, as TV viewers have almost unlimited tools to bypass them. Many ads go virtually unseen unless they are shared across social media platforms, and the vast majority of viral videos are comedic. According to, eight of the top ten viral videos of 2021 were funny. If my math is correct (not my strong suit), that’s 80 percent! Because funny gets clicks, likes, and shares, advertisers are getting back to basics: if you want to be remembered, go for the laughs.

Of course, the proof is in the pudding. Highdive’s recent series of ads for Jersey Mike’s featuring Danny Devito as the brand’s first-ever spokesperson has gotten more than nine million views on YouTube alone! The brilliant comedic actor’s love for subs (or hoagies if you’re in Philadelphia, where it’s always sunny) comes through in a hilarious and relatable way in each 30-second spot.

Alternative communications thought leaders, such as those in digital marketing, public relations, social media and event planning, have known for years that attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. Educators know that laughter leads to increased concentration levels due to the cerebral stimulation associated with dopamine delivery. If you want to keep someone’s attention longer than the time it takes to swipe left, being funny is a great place to start.

At Peppercomm, where I have served as Chief Comedy Officer for more than a decade, we know how to help people unlock the undeniable power of laughter in the workplace. Take a look through our humor-led service offerings to hear your clients say, “I love you, man!”