Don’t Misjudge the Likeability of Humor

“Where’s the beef?”

Some of you may not know this classic 1980s catchphrase from Wendy’s. So, let’s try another one:

“Dilly dilly!”

Now I’ve captured the rest of our reader’s attention.

From the loveable old lady who would storm drive-thru counters asking for more beef and less bun, to the more recent Bud Light commercial set in medieval times where a nonsense word evokes playful excitement for a frosty brew, humor plays a major role in these brands. In a world of noisy media messages, something unconventional allows our brains to switch to something more enjoyable.

The way we interact with brands is much the same way we interact with personal relationships. We gravitate toward brands that have a balance of warmth and competence. People say that they want a sense of humor in a mate. When brands have a sense of playfulness and laughter, it’s not absurd that we often gravitate toward those brands.

However, credit unions and community banks shy away from marketing humor because they fear consumers won’t laugh at their jokes, or worse… be offended by it. However, if people hate to be sold but they love to buy, being fun or funny in advertising might just be the best medicine for your financial institution.

Make no mistake, we’re not talking about putting shades on a piggy bank for a vacation loan and calling it a day. That’s cute, but it’s not witty. Here are three tips for making something boring into something that is uproarious:

Tell it with a KISS. – KISS stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. When you consider, “Where’s the Beef?” or “Dilly Dilly,” these spots are simple but memorable. Studies have shown that people have an attention span of eight seconds – one second shorter than the goldfish.

Speak with an edge. – The Wendy’s spot had comedic friction. Anheuser-Bush, like so many of their ads (remember Whassup?), is affectionate and cheerful with their medieval ads. The Quaker Oats brand recently announced a nationwide contest search for a brand new Mikey from its 1972 Life cereal campaign. That classic commercial touched us in so many ways, from dietary behavior to family conflict within the kitchen.

You can’t reach everyone. – A 2018 survey from Clutch says 53% of consumers are more likely to remember an ad if it is funny. However, if a comedian was worried about upsetting their audience, they would never take the stage. To quote Mark Twain, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Don’t let fear hold you back.

In fact, the more recent spots for Bud Light sheds a light on the beermaker not using corn syrup, unlike their competitors. Not only has MillerCoors responded, but corn farmers, have also pushed back. How did Bud Light respond? “Yeeeesh! That escalated quickly,” they said on Twitter. “In the Bud Light Kingdom, we love corn too! Corn on the cob, cornbread, popcorn – we just don’t brew with the syrup.”

Humor can be used to market your banking products, to separate you from the big banks or to spotlight how your credit union or bank is remarkably different. Will you hold back, or are you ready to make us laugh? To that, I say to you… “Dilly dilly!”

Frank Allgood has more than 20 years of experience in every facet of public information and marketing communications. As Vice President of Relationship Development for Your Marketing Co., he is responsible for strategic brand experiences and marketing initiatives for credit unions across the country. For branding or rebranding projects, call 864.326.8740 or email

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