Happy April Fool’s Day!
Just kidding, we still have a few weeks to go, but it’s time for you to kick off campaign preparations for the cheekiest day of the year. Humour has long been a powerful tool in the world of advertising and marketing, and it’s no different in Southeast Asia.
However, using humour to connect with target audiences can backfire spectacularly, if it’s not done well. So if you’re still unsure of your plans this year – we recommend following our approach:
- Understand your audience: Using humour effectively can be challenging, especially in Southeast Asia, where cultural differences make it tricky to adopt a humorous tone of voice and messaging that is also culturally appropriate. Conducting in-depth research on your target audience’s interests, values, and cultural norms is key to being appropriate and effective. Avoid jokes or references that may be offensive or inappropriate in the local context.
In 2020, Singapore Airlines launched a campaign called “No Detail Is Too Small,” which was meant to highlight the company’s attention to detail and customer service. Unfortunately, the campaign was met with criticism and backlash from customers and the media, who found the videos to be tone-deaf and out-of-touch with the current economic climate. The campaign serves as a reminder that humour can be a risky strategy in marketing and companies need to be prepared to pivot or adjust their messaging if they receive negative feedback.
- Highlight your brand’s USPs: Using humour to highlight your brand’s unique selling points is an effective way to stand out. By using humour to showcase your brand, you can make your brand more memorable. However, do not attempt to force humorous campaigns for the sake of it, especially if it does not align with your brand or message. Humour should come naturally and feel authentic to your target audience. If you are not comfortable using humour, it might be better to stick with a more straightforward approach.
- Keep it light and relatable: Most importantly, frame your humorous content positively! Dark humour or humour that is too edgy has the potential to alienate your audience and harm your brand. Instead, tap on humour that is uplifting, positive, and in good taste. Humour can be a double-edged sword, and it’s important for brands to avoid anything that could be deemed offensive or insensitive. Brands should always do their due diligence to ensure that their campaigns are inclusive and respectful.
In 2022, Mutant launched the Rendang 2022 LTO and planned and executed an April Fools’ Day collaboration with Zermatt Neo. Mutant manufactured a viral trendjacking moment where Zermatt challenged Subway to deliver a yard-long sub for him through lively banter on social media. Subway first posted an ad teasing the launch of a yard-long sandwich on its Facebook and Instagram on 31 March, as part of an April Fool’s prank.
When the prank was eventually revealed, Zermatt commented on Subway’s Instagram post saying that if the brand did create a yard-long sandwich, he “would eat it solo”. Subway accepted the challenge. The next day, he was invited over to the Subway outlet at Junction 8 where he got to customise his rendang-flavoured, yard-long sandwich. The entire experience was filmed and produced as long-form video content. The campaign saw a total of 271,124 impressions and 11,768 engagements.
From this example it’s clear that humour can create a strong emotional connection with customers and help companies stand out in a saturated marketplace. However, it’s important to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, and what works in one campaign may not work in another. Whatever the approach, it’s important to ensure that the use of humour in public relations campaigns aligns with the brand values and messaging. The key to success lies in being creative and original, while remaining inclusive and respectful.
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