A Cross-Cultural Typology
of Advertising Humor
2013 Cross Cultural Research Conference
Antigua, Guatemala 12/08/13

JAMES ...
Contribution
• This research provides marketers with meaningful frameworks for crafting
humor-based content strategies in ...
Objectives
• Inductively derive a humor typology from:
• Large scale sampling viral YouTube videos recast from
commercials...
Importance of Humor
• Humor in advertising dominates
entertainment in spot TV and online
commercials
• Accelerated growth ...
3 Theories of Humor
• Cognitive (Ah-Hah!)
• Emotional (Ha! Ha!)
• Physiological (Ahh!)
Incongruity-Resolution

Superiority...
Incongruity-Resolution Theory of Humor
Cognitive Stimulus

Incongruity

• Humor is perceived at the moment of
realization ...
Superiority Theory of Humor (Disparagement)
Social Stimulus
• Laughter is a "sudden glory” we feel when
witnessing the mis...
Tension-Relief (Arousal-Safety) Theory of Humor
Affective Stimulus
• Laughter results when psychological
tension is reduce...
Literature Review
• Speck’s (1991) humorous message taxonomy defines 5 humor types
• Framework demonstrates multi-theory i...
Complex Nature of Humor Complicates Typology
• Humor is derived from complex
cognitive and psychological conditions
• Stud...
Synthesis of Comic Devices & Theory

Theory
IncongruityResolution

Speck’s Taxonomy
Comic Wit
Resonant
Wit

Superiority
Sa...
Methodology
• Examined re-casted spot television ads posted on YouTube
• 2107 commercials (> 50K views, past decade) were
...
Methodology
Full Comedy: Social Order Deviancy

• Incongruity Theory: Royal family out of sorts
• Superiority Theory: Soci...
Mockery Mechanisms

Incongruity Mechanisms
•
•
•
•
•

PD: Perceptual Displacement
IJ: Ironic Juxtaposition
P: Puns
H: Hype...
Synthesis of Theory, Speck’s Taxonomy,
Comic Device Literature & Test Results
Speck Humor Types

Incongruency

Disparageme...
Typology of 9 Humor Types
1. Absurdity
2. Irony
3. Surprise
4. Malicious Joy
5. Putdowns
6. Unruliness
7. Social Order Dev...
Inductive Support of Incongruity Theory
Theory of Incongruity
EXAGGERATION
CONCEPTUAL DISCORD

PERCEPTIONAL DISCORD
Odd Be...
Inductive Support of Superiority Theory
PUTDOWNS
Mocked Peculiarities
65
66
67
68

Background Mockery
Illusory Superiority...
Inductive Support of Relief/Release Theory
UNRULINESS
Hysteria
117
118
119
120

Angry Yelling
Nervous Breakdown
Sports Fan...
86
51
70
60
94
76
85
48
54
86
30
80
54
86
80
74
23
67
80
94
60
55
59
86
65
65
112
101
54
29
82
50
40
48
59
85
35
81
75
13
...
• Aggressive humor (e.g., unruliness, putdowns
and malicious joy) scored higher in
engagement among highly individualistic...
• As expected, viewers from countries of high
uncertainty avoidance essentially dismiss humor
based on absurdities

Low
UA...
• Higher engagement scores on putdowns, and
• Higher attention scores on unruliness as compared to
their feministic counte...
Evaluation of Humor Effectiveness Along Power
Distance Dimensions

• This would suggest that individuals from these
nation...
Conclusion
• This research found 9 humor types to represent the vast majority
of high performing commercials when measured...
Conclusion
• Many of the cultural distinctions fall along the lines of negative or
aggressive humor
• This implies that ad...
Limitations
• Single author evaluation of humor devices
• Study is exploratory
• Requires several controls on advertising ...
Thank You
References
Berger, Arthur Asa (1993). An Anatomy of Humor. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books.

Buijzen , M. & Valkenbur...
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A Cross Cultural Typology of Advertising Humor

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This empirical study explores the effectiveness of humorous advertising viewed in 92 countries from a typology of nine humor types. The humor typology was derived inductively from humor theories and comic techniques adopted in the literature. From a large sample of commercials screened for humorous content and high performance metrics, an examination of incongruity, mockery and arousal mechanisms led to nine humor types subsequently evaluated for cross-cultural advertising appeal using Hofstede’s (2001) measures for power distance, individualism, masculinity and uncertainty avoidance. Overall, the study found that humor based on absurdity and surprise scored well on attention and likeability in almost all cultures. Cultures of high femininity and collectivism were the least impacted by humor. Aggressive humor such as put-downs and malicious joy scored far worse in nations of high power distance and collectivism. Finally, socially inappropriate humor such as unruliness performed better in cultures marked by high individualism and masculinity.

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A Cross Cultural Typology of Advertising Humor

  1. 1. A Cross-Cultural Typology of Advertising Humor 2013 Cross Cultural Research Conference Antigua, Guatemala 12/08/13 JAMES M. BARRY SANDRA S. GRAÇA
  2. 2. Contribution • This research provides marketers with meaningful frameworks for crafting humor-based content strategies in a global setting • High growth in edu-taining social videos* • Humor continues as most popular form of entertainment in commercials • But meaningful humor typologies are lacking • This research is based on large scale, TV commercial evaluations using social engagement data • This research provides a manageable set of humor classifications that are well aligned with theory • Typology further reveals some anticipated cultural reactions to aggressive humor types considered in the derived typology * 87% of marketers use video for content marketing; $6.3B to be spent on video ads in 2015
  3. 3. Objectives • Inductively derive a humor typology from: • Large scale sampling viral YouTube videos recast from commercials • High level sort of comic devices into theory-based classifications • Model synthesis to fit multi-theory taxonomies and researched comic devices • Examine effectiveness of humor types for a final typology selection and framework for cultural analysis • Examine empirical results relative to literature findings • Qualify humor performance from viral video statistics • Compare performance of each type across national cultures
  4. 4. Importance of Humor • Humor in advertising dominates entertainment in spot TV and online commercials • Accelerated growth in viral video marketing • Almost every major brand uses YouTube as a back channel for recast TV commercials • > 6B hours of video are watched each month on YouTube • 95% of viral videos are entertaining, two-thirds of which are intended to be funny • Nearly $50 billion is spent annually on worldwide humorous commercials Viral YouTube Videos (> 50K Views) Recast from TV Commercials Non-Humorous Entertainment
  5. 5. 3 Theories of Humor • Cognitive (Ah-Hah!) • Emotional (Ha! Ha!) • Physiological (Ahh!) Incongruity-Resolution Superiority Relief-Release
  6. 6. Incongruity-Resolution Theory of Humor Cognitive Stimulus Incongruity • Humor is perceived at the moment of realization of incongruity between: • What we expect • And what actually happens • Main point of the theory • Is not the incongruity • It’s the resolution (i.e., putting the objects in question into the real relation) Resolution
  7. 7. Superiority Theory of Humor (Disparagement) Social Stimulus • Laughter is a "sudden glory” we feel when witnessing the misfortunes of others (schadenfreude) • Misfortunes assert the person's superiority on the background of another’s shortcomings • Seen as aggressive and disparaging, reactions to this humor are mixed
  8. 8. Tension-Relief (Arousal-Safety) Theory of Humor Affective Stimulus • Laughter results when psychological tension is reduced • Homeostatic (arousal-safety) mechanism from release of nervous energy or hysteria • Overcoming sociocultural inhibitions • Revealing suppressed desires • Barely escaping danger
  9. 9. Literature Review • Speck’s (1991) humorous message taxonomy defines 5 humor types • Framework demonstrates multi-theory interactions, but lacks specificity & an adequate framework for cultural sensitivity examination • Berger (1993) and Buijzen & Valkenburg (2004) identified 200+ comic devices • Lee and Lim (2008) and Hatzithomas et al. (2011) examine cultural influences Speck (1991)
  10. 10. Complex Nature of Humor Complicates Typology • Humor is derived from complex cognitive and psychological conditions • Studies still lack a foundation in which to appropriately categorize humor in line with well accepted theories • Broad theories at one end • Too many humor categories of mixed concepts at other end (e.g., mixes of comic devices or skit manipulations)
  11. 11. Synthesis of Comic Devices & Theory Theory IncongruityResolution Speck’s Taxonomy Comic Wit Resonant Wit Superiority Satire ArousalSafety (Relief) Resonant Comedy Full Comedy Comic Devices Puns Hyperbole Parodies Stereotyping Sarcasm Mockery Slapstick etc. Incongruity Mechanisms Conceptual Discord Aberrant Behaviors Visual Anomalies
  12. 12. Methodology • Examined re-casted spot television ads posted on YouTube • 2107 commercials (> 50K views, past decade) were classified as having content intended to be humorous • Views measured for attention • Net likes and comments captured for engagement • Up to three comic devices per episode • Commercials were then defined and sorted into categories of comic devices that dominated the commercial • 1st level consolidation of comic devices was based on face value discovery of in-group conceptual similarity and distinctiveness across groups Example Comic Device: Babies Performing as Adults
  13. 13. Methodology Full Comedy: Social Order Deviancy • Incongruity Theory: Royal family out of sorts • Superiority Theory: Society satire • Relief Theory: Letting loose of parliamentary process
  14. 14. Mockery Mechanisms Incongruity Mechanisms • • • • • PD: Perceptual Displacement IJ: Ironic Juxtaposition P: Puns H: Hyperbole ST: Surprise Twist Response to Cognitive Shift Conceptual Discord • • • • • • • • • • • • Aberrant Behaviors • • • • • PD: Maladroitness (C)*,# PD: Irreverence (D)*,# PD: Eccentricity (A, C, D)*,# IJ: Ironic Behaviors (A, C)*,# H: Over-reactive Behaviors (A, C, D) Visual Anomalies • • • • • • • • • A PD: Nonsense (A)*, # PD: Strange Settings (A) PD: Ignorance (C)*,# IJ: Misunderstandings (A)*,# IJ: Situational Irony/Coincidence (A, C)*,# IJ: Untimely Quandaries/Mishaps (C, E) IJ: Illusory Superiority (C) P: Puns (A)*,# H: Exaggerated Outcomes (A)*,# H: Understatements (A) ST: Conceptual Surprises (A, C, D)* ST: Reversals (A, C, D) PD: Scale Distortion (A, C)*,# PD: Grotesque Appearance (A, C)*,# PD: Mimicry/Impersonation (A, C)*,# IJ: Visual Surprise (A)*,# IJ: Visual Irony (A)*,# IJ: Dramatic Irony (C)*,# H: Exaggerated Qualities (A)*,# H: Speed Distortion (A)*,# ST: Transformation (A)*,# • • • • • • • • • Misfortune (C) Sarcasm & Insults (C)*,# Stereotyping (C) Parodies (C)* Background Mockery (C) Outwitting (C)* Delusions of Grandeur (C) Humbled Haughtiness (C) Highlighted Inferiorities (C) Humor Types (Speck, 1991) A. B. C. D. C Feelings of Sudden Glory • • • • • Comic Wit (Incongruence) Sentimental Humor (Arousal-Safety) Satire (Incongruence + Disparagement ) Sentimental Comedy (Incongruence + ArousalSafety) E. Full Comedy (Incongruence, Disparagement + Arousal-Safety) Malicious Joy (C)* Mocked Peculiarities (C) Lofty Conquests (C) Society Satire (C, E)*,# Awkward Moments (E)*,# Social Order Deviancy D Repressed Energy Release • • • • • • Impulsive Outbursts (D, E) Exercising Improprieties (D, E) Displaced Embarrassment (D, E)*,# Strange Sentimental Response (D) Displaced Irritation (D) Suspenseful Relief (D) Arousal Mechanisms • • • • • • • • • • • • Shameful Discoveries Melodrama Taboos Narrow Escape Suspense Dream Exploits Disappointment Sexual Allusions*,# Infantilism*,# Aggression Antagonism Anxiety • • • • E Outwitted Censorship Unprepared Remorseful Predicament Slapstick Comedy*,# Unleashed Insanity B * Humor technique adopted from Buijzen and Valkenburg (2004) # Humor technique adopted from Berger (1993) Ad Performance • Attention • Likeability • Engagement
  15. 15. Synthesis of Theory, Speck’s Taxonomy, Comic Device Literature & Test Results Speck Humor Types Incongruency Disparagement Arousal-Safety Full Comedy Satire Sentimental Comedy Comic Wit * High High High High High Low High Low High Unruliness High Low Low Absurdity 1) Sentimental Humor Low Low High Sentimental Humor Conceptual Discord Perceptual Nonsense & Strange Dispacement Settings Misunderstandings & Ironic Juxtaposition Situational Irony Puns Puns Exaggerated Outcomes & Hyperbole Understatements Surprise Twist Conceptual Surprise * Incongruity Mechanisms Aberrant Behaviors Humor Type 1 Social Order Deviancy Awkwardness Putdowns Malicious Joy NA Visual Anomalies Distortions & Impersonations Visual Surprise & Visual Irony NA Small Volume Over-reactive Behaviors Exaggerated Qualities 1) Absurdity NA Transformation 3) Surprise Eccentricity Ironic Behaviors Humor Type 2 Humor Type 3 1) Absurdity 2) Irony Irony 2) Surprise 3)
  16. 16. Typology of 9 Humor Types 1. Absurdity 2. Irony 3. Surprise 4. Malicious Joy 5. Putdowns 6. Unruliness 7. Social Order Deviancy 8. Awkwardness 9. Sentimental Humor
  17. 17. Inductive Support of Incongruity Theory Theory of Incongruity EXAGGERATION CONCEPTUAL DISCORD PERCEPTIONAL DISCORD Odd Behaviors IRONY Visual Irony SURPRISE TWIST Conceptual Surprises Exaggerated Outcomes 17 Performing/ Talking Babies 33 Cyborgs Acting as Humans 53 Wrong Answer 1 Exaggerated Results 2 Exaggerated Response 18 34 Humans Acting as Animals 35 Hypocritical Behaviors 54 Uneventful Conclusion 55 Absurd Chain Reaction 3 Exaggerated Nightmare Reactions 20 Animal Willpower Multiple Personalities Foolishness 4 Exaggerated Stories Understatement 19 Misrepresented Context 21 5 Unrattled by Danger 6 Exaggerated Simplicity 22 7 Exaggerated Concealment 24 8 Profound Grasp of the Obvious VISUAL ANOMALIES Exaggerated Qualities 9 Exaggerated Body Reactions 10 Supernatural Performance 11 Incredible Allure 12 Speed & Scale Distortion ABERRANT BEHAVIORS Overreactions 13 Taking Extreme Measures 23 Illustrated Idioms Humanized Depiction Unusual Setting Unconventional Routine Bizarre Substitutions 25 26 27 28 Object Replacement Sound Imitations Animal Substitution Anthropomorphism Nonsense 29 30 31 Dim-witted Baffling Dialog Irrelevance 32 Confusing Response 36 Oxymorons 37 Unusual Pairing Ironic Temperament 38 Callous Turned Kind 39 Miscast Temperament Plot Trickery 56 Storyline Twist 57 Fantasy Turned Reality 58 Twist of Fate Transformation 40 Soft Tough Guy 59 Age Transformation 41 Unlikely Friendliness 42 Unusually Considerate 60 Magic 61 Body Switch Ironic Persona 43 Adult Acting Child 44 Childish Adult 45 Miscast Role 46 Mistaken Identity 47 Unlikely Hero Situational Irony 48 Anachronisms 14 Awestruck 49 Coincidental Backlash 15 Over Intense 16 Over Heroic 50 Miscommunications 51 Misplaced Routine 52 Misunderstood Intentions Visual Surprise 62 Surprise Revelation 63 Creature Appearance 64 Wishful Thinking
  18. 18. Inductive Support of Superiority Theory PUTDOWNS Mocked Peculiarities 65 66 67 68 Background Mockery Illusory Superiority Maladroitness Quirkiness Lofty Conquest 69 70 71 72 Outwitting Macho Gone Sour Arrogant Knockdowns Unfair Advantage Society Satire 73 74 75 76 Exaggerated Cultural Nuance Parodies Language Peculiarities Cheeky Barbs Stereotyping 77 78 79 80 Blondes & Bubbas Sterotyped Professions Celebrity Impersonation Beauty Conquered Male MALICIOUS JOY Bungling Behaviors 81 82 83 84 Accident Prone Futile Attempts Innocently Offensive Toxic Stupor Unanticipated Spoiler 85 86 87 88 Unexpected Danger Unexpected Injury Unexpected Damage Spoiled Romance Unfortunate Happenstance 89 90 91 92 Bad Timing Bad Idea Lost Opportunity Unforeseen Consequences Deserved Repercussions 93 94 95 96 Paybacks Backfires Hangovers Overextended Cretins 97 98 99 100 Cavemen Grotesque & Deformed Derelicts Gross Incompetence AWKWARDNESS Remorseful Regrets 101 102 103 104 Tough Predicaments Regretful Actions Regretful Statements Caught Off Guard Uncomfortable Settings 105 106 107 108 Uncomfortable Male Bonding Uncomfortable Intimacy Uncomfortable Conversation Creepiness Exercising Humility 109 110 111 112 Wrong Impression Exposed Privacy Public Embarassment Unveiled Feminine Side Revealed Secrets 113 114 115 116 Captured Glances Revealed Deceptions Exposed True Colors Revealed Fantasies
  19. 19. Inductive Support of Relief/Release Theory UNRULINESS Hysteria 117 118 119 120 Angry Yelling Nervous Breakdown Sports Fanatical Extreme Screaming Impulsive Outbursts 121 122 123 124 Belligerance Forceful Demonstration Spontaneous Performance Body Explosion Displaced Irritation 125 126 127 128 Annoying Natures Incessant Talker Ending the Annoyance Annoying Repetitions Exercising Improprieties 129 130 131 132 Invasive Peeking Disorderly Pop Culture Lexicons Recalcitrance Unsightly Exposure SOCIAL ORDER DEVIANCY SENTIMENTAL HUMOR Society Irreverence 133 134 135 136 High Society Satires Outwitting the Honorable Rule Breaking Undermining Authority Forbidden Behaviors 137 138 139 140 Taboos & Sacred Barriers Exercising Professional Exhibitionism Face Slapping Offensive Behaviors 141 142 143 144 Odor Offensive Repulsive Behaviors Unrefined Behaviors Bleeped Language Unleashed Mania 145 146 147 148 Mad Science Sadomasochism Public Disturbance Swooning Women Child Innocence 149 Youthful Discoveries 150 Inner Child 151 Child Mimicry of Fear & Anxiety Relief 152 Narrow Escape 153 Fear of What's to 154 Barely Escaped Melodrama 155 Histrionic Behaviors 156 Melancholic Behaviors 157 Fervent Behaviors Inner Secrets 158 Dream Exploits 159 Suggestive Sexual 160 Contradicting Inner
  20. 20. 86 51 70 60 94 76 85 48 54 86 30 80 54 86 80 74 23 67 80 94 60 55 59 86 65 65 112 101 54 29 82 50 40 48 59 85 35 81 75 13 92 68 52 80 60 H M H H H H H M M H L H M H H H L H H H H M M H H H H H M L H M L M M H L H H L H H M H H H,M,L* M H H M M M L M M L H H M L L M L H M L L H L M H L M L M M H L M M M H H M H H H M M L L UAI Score 56 61 79 55 54 49 40 52 46 28 66 64 46 21 40 57 16 63 45 40 30 65 26 43 66 40 57 37 46 57 88 10 56 46 43 70 68 47 70 68 95 52 41 40 30 H,M,L* M H M L H L L H L L L L L L L M H L L L H L H H H L L L L L H H M L M L H M H L M L L L H MASC Score 46 90 55 20 75 38 30 80 20 23 20 13 20 15 33 58 74 8 25 19 60 20 63 71 67 15 35 6 20 25 80 60 48 14 41 30 70 54 76 39 46 38 27 25 60 H,M,L* M L L H H H H L H H H H H L H M L H H H L H L H L H H H H H M L H H M H L L M M M H H H L INDV Score H,M,L* 49 36 11 80 65 69 70 39 77 63 80 67 77 35 73 57 18 78 70 66 40 70 33 68 35 80 60 95 77 68 46 30 77 78 58 95 28 13 50 45 54 80 64 90 40 H,M,L* UAI Score • In order to show substantial differences across cultural dimensions, scores between 40 and 60 were removed as being moderate H,M,L* • Country scoring was not available for approx. 20% of the sample MASC Score • Some based on subsequent studies from other researchers H,M,L* • Some based on Hofstede’s original research INDV Score • 92 countries were scored according to Hofstede’s measurements H,M,L* • To qualify each commercial by national culture, viewers from over 100 nations were recorded from YouTube stats PDI Score Categorizing Across Cultures Argentina Australia Austria Bangladesh Belgium Brazil Bulgaria Canada Chad Chile China Colombia Congo Costa Rica Croatia Czech Rep. Denmark Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Estonia Ethiopia Finland France Germany Ghana Greece Guatemala Guyana Hong Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jordan Kenya Kuwait Latvia PDI Score Country 75 40 40 104 81 70 63 38 22 80 31 55 95 64 94 68 63 62 80 90 93 95 86 74 104 71 49 60 57 68 31 34 58 64 47 66 90 77 35 96 61 40 81 70 80 60 H L L H H H H L L H L M H H H H H H H H H H H H H H M H M H L L M H M H H H L H H L H H H H 40 60 60 26 30 25 30 80 79 30 69 14 11 16 32 60 27 84 38 30 39 25 25 20 52 27 65 18 51 50 71 68 17 20 16 37 25 20 89 38 36 91 12 20 38 35 M H H L L L L H H L H L L L L H L H L L L L L L M L H L M M H H L L L L L L H L L H L L L L 65 30 50 50 69 53 40 14 58 60 8 50 44 42 64 64 31 60 52 42 36 60 43 48 110 19 63 39 42 40 5 70 45 34 58 45 50 46 66 40 38 62 73 40 52 40 H L M M H M L L M H L M M M H H L H M M L H M M H L H L M L L H M L M M M M H L L H H L M L 50 60 70 36 82 68 40 53 49 55 50 70 86 87 44 93 104 61 68 90 95 80 92 8 51 88 49 85 86 45 29 58 69 64 55 85 80 54 35 93 100 46 76 30 68 50 M H H L H H L M M M M H H H M H H H H H H H H L M H M H H M L M H H M H H M L H H M H L H M Country * H- High Score; M - Moderate Score; L - Low Score Lebanon Lithuania Luxembourg Malaysia Mexico Morocco Nepal Netherlands New Zealand Nigeria Norway Pakistan Panama Peru Philippines Poland Portugal Puerto Rico Qatar Romania Russia Saudi Arabia Serbia Singapore Slovakia Slovenia South Africa South Korea Spain Sri Lanka Sweden Switzerland Taiwan Thailand Trinidad Turkey UAE Uganda UK Ukraine Uruguay US Venezuela Vietnam Yemen Zaire/Zambia
  21. 21. • Aggressive humor (e.g., unruliness, putdowns and malicious joy) scored higher in engagement among highly individualistic cultures • Collectivist cultures may see aggressive humor as offensive, socially inappropriate or running counter to relational harmony Putdowns +80% Engagement* High INDV Circle size denotes number of commercials. +40% Surprise -150% -100% Absurdity Sentimental Humor Irony -50% +50% Non-Humor Malicious Joy Awkwardness +150 % Attention* Humor (68%) Non-Humor (32%) -80% n = 2501 commercials Low INDV +100% Social Order Unruliness -40% Deviancy Engagement * • Only half of the entertaining commercials viewed in collectivist cultures were considered humorous Engagement * Evaluation of Humor Effectiveness Along Individualistic Dimensions Circle size denotes number of commercials. +80% +40% Sentimental Humor -150% -100% -50% Irony Putdowns Unruliness n = 635 commercials NonHumor Malicious Joy Awkwardnes s +50% +100% Surprise -40% Absurdity -80% +150 % Attention* Social Order Deviancy Humor (49%) Non-Humor (51%)
  22. 22. • As expected, viewers from countries of high uncertainty avoidance essentially dismiss humor based on absurdities Low UAI • LOW UAI: 15% above average on engagement and 70% above average on attention • Consistent with the literature, this could reflect their inherent aversion to ambiguity (Hatzithomas et al. 2011; Lee and Lim, 2008) Circle size denotes number of commercials. +80% +40% Irony Surprise Non-Humor -150% • HIGH UAI: 30% below average on engagement and 20% below average on attention Engagement* Evaluation of Humor Effectiveness Along Uncertainty Avoidance Dimensions -100% -50% Putdowns +50% +100% -40% Sentimental Humor n = 469 commercials -80% High UAI Malicious Joy Unruliness Social Order Deviancy Humor (60%) Non-Humor (40%) Circle size denotes number of commercials. +80% Social Order Deviancy +40% Awkwardness Sentimental Humor -100% +150% Attention* Awkwardness -150% Absurdity Surprise -50% +50% +100% +150% Putdowns Attention* Irony Unruliness Absurdity Non- -40% Humor Malicious Joy n = 804 commercials Humor (54%) -80% Non-Humor (46%)
  23. 23. • Higher engagement scores on putdowns, and • Higher attention scores on unruliness as compared to their feministic counterparts • This is consistent with the more aggressive and competitive nature of masculine societies. • Samples from feministic cultures also showed more preference to non-humorous forms of entertainment. High MASC Circle size denotes number of commercials. +80% +40% Surprise Putdowns Sentimental Humor Absurdity Irony -150% -100% -50% NonHumor +100% +50% -40% Awkwardness n = 1834 commercials Humor (66%) -80% Low MASC Unruliness -150% Social Order Deviancy Awkwardness Non-Humor +50% Putdowns Absurdity n = 392 commercials Circle size denotes number of commercials. Irony -50% -100% Non-Humor (34%) +80% +40% Malicious Joy +150% Unruliness Malicious Joy Social Order Deviancy Engagement* • In the case of masculinity, samples from highly masculine cultures showed: Engagement* Evaluation of Humor Effectiveness Along Masculinity Dimensions +100% +150% Surprise Sentimental Humor -40% Attention* Humor (49%) -80% Non-Humor (51%)
  24. 24. Evaluation of Humor Effectiveness Along Power Distance Dimensions • This would suggest that individuals from these nations are sensitive to their class structure and, consequently, feel uncomfortable exploiting someone’s stature. Circle size denotes number of commercials. +80% +40% Sentimental Humor -150% -100% -50% Malicious Joy Non-Humor Unruliness +50% Irony Awkwardness Surprise +100% Social Order Deviancy Absurdity Putdowns +150% Attention* -40% Humor (52%) -80% n = 774 commercials Engagement* • Contrary to Lee and Lim (2008), viewers from cultures of high power distance show far less engagement and viewing of commercials featuring disparagement (e.g., putdowns) High PDI Low PDI Surprise Non-Humor (48%) Circle size denotes number of commercials. +80% +40% Absurdity Putdowns -150% -100% -50% Irony NonHumor Social Order Deviancy Sentimental Humor +50% Malicious Joy +100% +150% Attention* Unruliness -40% Awkwardness n = 2335 commercials Humor (69%) -80% Non-Humor (31%)
  25. 25. Conclusion • This research found 9 humor types to represent the vast majority of high performing commercials when measured by total views and social media engagement. • The sample was large enough to further explore the cross-cultural distinctions inferred in the literature. • Among the humor types that consistently score above average across most cultures are those based on the incongruity theory (e.g., absurdity, irony and surprise).
  26. 26. Conclusion • Many of the cultural distinctions fall along the lines of negative or aggressive humor • This implies that advertisers should be sensitive to a culture’s receptivity to humor that is deemed disparaging or socially inappropriate.
  27. 27. Limitations • Single author evaluation of humor devices • Study is exploratory • Requires several controls on advertising effectiveness (e.g., controls for cultural actors, skit manipulations, brand preference, demographic appeal, etc.) • Lacks analysis of multi-theory influences (combined influence of incongruity, superiority and relief effects) • YouTube statistics do not isolate video performance by country (i.e., uses top 3 country stats for total view and likeability count)
  28. 28. Thank You
  29. 29. References Berger, Arthur Asa (1993). An Anatomy of Humor. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books. Buijzen , M. & Valkenburg, P.M. (2004). Developing a typology of humor in audiovisual media. Media Psychology, 6, 147-167. Hatzithomas, L., Zotos, Y., Boutsouki, C. (2011). Humor and cultural values in print advertising: a cross cultural study. International Marketing Review, 28(1), 57-80. Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: comparing values, behaviors, institutions and organizations across nations. 2nd ed., Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA. Lee, Y.H. & Lim, E.A.C. (2008). What’s funny and what’s not: the moderating role of cultural orientation in ad humor. Journal of Advertising. 37(2), 71-84. Speck, P.S. (1991). The humorous message taxonomy: A framework for the study of humorous ads. In Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, Vol. 13, James Leigh & Claude Martin, Jr EDS. University of Michigan, 1-44.
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