Attitudes formation towards advertising – using humor effect.

Have you ever seen a humorous advertising that makes you change the attitude about the product appeared in the ads and want to purchase it immediately? For me, hilarious contents are usually the main reasons why I notice and make purchase to the product promoted in the ads.

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The definition of attitude towards the ads is the predisposition to react in a “favorable or unfavorable manner” to an specific ad (Shimp, 1981, p. 9-15). The formation of attitudes towards an ad, through these manners, are learned as well as developed and they are affected by previous personal experience and information collected from both personal and impersonal resources (Schiffman et al., 2013, p.273).

So what is humour effect in advertising and how can advertisers create humour in an ad? According to Schiffman, humour is the characteristic that makes a circumstance or a media communication become more entertaining or funny (Schiffman et al., 2013, p.258). An advertising is considered humourous if it can make the audience smile, laugh or feel happy. (Chang and Chang, 2014). Humour in advertising is the result of using expression methods, such as pun, understatement, joke, ludicrousness, satire and/or irony (Biswas, Olsen & Carlet, 1992).

Utilizing humour effects on advertising is shown to give a positive effect on consumers (Calvin et al., 1984). A research shows that approximately three fouths of participants replied that they would have an intention to change their buying decision after watching the advertisements containing fascinatingly humourous content (Motwani and Agarwal, 2013). Others researches show that humour factors can enhance a person’s favourable attitude towards advertisements (Calvin et al., 1984). Through these studies, advertisers should consider using humour contents when creating an advertisement.

The reason why humour effects have a great impact on advertising can be easily answered through the analysis of tricomponent attitude model including cognitive, affective and conative components (Schiffman et al., 2013). Cognitive components of attitude are the attitudes based on beliefs, knowledges, thoughts, ideas about something, whereas affective components are the feelings, emotions about something and the conative components are the behavioural components towards something (Schiffman et al., 2013). Advertisers create humour contents in the ads to meet these customers’ components of attitudes, therefore, control and change the attitudes of consumers towards a product in a positive way (Chang and Chang, 2014).

Untitled.png(Photo source: Schiffman, 2013)

However, humour effects can create negative impact on consumers if it is used inappropriately (Motwani and Agarwal, 2013). The research indicates that nearly 60% of the respondents feel that the humour patterns in the advertising is effective if they have a limitation at some level, whereas approximately 30% of the partakers of the survey replies that they feel offensive when seeing humour content in the ads (Motwani and Agarwal, 2013). Therefore, an appropriate amount of humour contents should be used to avoid the ignorance of customers towards an ad.

Kết quả hình ảnh cho beer help ugly advertising
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The use of humour content in advertisements can be widely seen in the beer commercials. The Tuborg beer commercial below depicts the context that a man sitting next to a woman, and the more beer he drinks, the more beautiful the woman is. The commercial is hilarious and so right somehow and is suitable for men who want to escape reality by using the product. Tuborg beer commercial, therefore, successfully raises awareness of the customers about their products by promoting them in a funny way.


Another hilarious beer commercial is Heineken advertisement. The context of the commercial is in a supermarket, a guy is buying grocery and a girl standing next to him is trying to reach two bottles of Heineken on the top of the shelf. The plot twist in this ad is that, everyone will think that the guy will take the Heineken beers for the girls to please her, but eventually he decides to take them for himself and ignore the girls. The commercial does not only delivery hilarious content but also implicitly shows that a bottle of Heineken is more attractive than anything else.


To sum up, humour contents used in advertising does have a great impact on attitude change & formation of consumers.

Biswas, A., Olsen, J. E. & Carlet, V. (1992). “A comparison of print advertisements from the United States and France”, Journal of Advertising, [online] 21 (4),p.73-81. Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2017].

Chang, W. & Chang, I. (2014). “The Influences of Humorous Advertising on Brand Popularity and Advertising Effects in the Tourism Industry”, Sustainability, [online] 6 (12), pp.9205-9217. Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2017].

Duncan, C, Nelson, J & Frontczak, N. (1984). “The Effect of Humor on Advertising Comprehension” NA Advances in Consumer Research, [online] 11 (0), p432-437. Available at: [Accessed 5 May 2017].

Motwani, D & Agarwal, K. (2013). “Impact of humorous advertisements on customers’ behavior”, International Journal of Advanced Research in Management and Social Sciences, [online] 2 (10), p34-41, ISSN: 2278-6236. Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2017].

Schiffman, L., O’Cass, A., Paladino, A. and Carlson, J. (2013). Consumer behaviour. 6th ed. Pearson Education Australia.

Shimp, T. A. (1981). “Attitude toward the Ad as a Mediator of Consumer Brand Choice”, Journal of Advertising, [online] 10 (2), p.9-15, ISSN 0022-2437. Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2017].

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