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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