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Businesses which encourage humor also suggest: 44 1. Take Risks. 2. Don’t worry about making mistakes. 3. Take iniative. 4. Spend energy on solutions. 5. Shoot for total quality. 6. Don’t worry about breaking things. 7. Focus on opportunities. 8. Experiment. 9. Take responsibility. 10. Try easier, not harder. 11. Stay calm. 12. Smile. 13. Have fun. (Morreall : 459)
A Hodge-Cronin survey polling 737 CEOs of major corporations concluded that 98 % of respondents said that humor was important in the conduct of business, that most executives did not have enough humor, and that in hiring they gave preference to people with a sense of humor.
“ Athlete’s Foot,” “B. O.” “The beer that made Milwaukee famous,” “The drink that makes a pause refreshing,” “Good to the last drop,” “Halitosis,” “Knocks Eczema,” “Natures spelled backwards,” “Say it with flowers,” “The skin you love to touch,” “Snap, Crackle and Pop,” “VapoRub,” “When it rains, it pours,”
Absorbine Jr., Lifebuoy Soap, Schlitz Beer, Coca Cola, Maxwell House Coffee, Listerine Mouthwash, Noxema, Serutan, American Florest Assoc., Woodbury’s Facial Soap, Rice Krispies, Vicks, Morton Salt
CREATIVE SPELLINGS: E-Z, Kwik, ReaLemon, Reddi-Wip, Tastee-Freez, Toys Я Us, While you wait
Many advertisers are so successful that their product names ordinary words in the language. Ironically, this is because of their own advertising campaigns:
“ Kodak as you go.”
“ Thermos is a household word.”
“ Drink Coca Cola.”
“ Because of the confusion, and occasional lack of fastidiousness on the part of their owners, many dozens of products have lost their trademark protection, among them aspirin, linoneum, yo-yo, thermos, cellophane, milk of magnesia, mimeograph, lanolin, celluloid, dry ice, escalator, shredded wheat, kerosene and zipper.”
“ If Greece gave the world philosophy, Britain gave drama, Austria gave music, Germany gave politics, and Italy gave art, then America has recently contributed mass-produced and mass-consumed objects.”
“ In all cultures we buy things, steal things, and hoard things. From time to time, some of us collect vast amounts of things such as tulip bulbs, paint drippings on canvases, bits of minerals. Others collect such stuff as thimbles, shoes, even libraries of videocassettes.”
“ Materialism does not crowd out spiritualism; spiritualism is more likely a substitute when objects are scarce. When we have few things, we make the next world holy. When we have plenty, we enchant the objects around us. The hereafter becomes the here and now.”
“ The Nike swoosh, the Polo pony, the Guess? Label, the DKNY logo are what consumers are after.”
(Twitchell : 457)
The Marketing of the Sugarplum Fairy and the Nutcracker
Enid Nemy tells about seven-year-old Mollie Kurshan who attended “The Nutcracker Suite” at Lincoln Center and then told her mother:
“ There was a Sugar Plum Fairy and beautiful costumes, and ‘best of all they stopped in the middle so you could go shopping.’ The Kurshans now have a cute little wooden nutcracker, bought at the gift shop during intermission.”
“ Not only are all major museum shows sponsored by corporate interests, but they all end up in the same spot: the gift shop.”
“ The year is punctuated by extravaganzas from Christmas to Valentine’s Day to Mother’s Day to Halloween”
“ We even know when prices fall: Washington’s birthday, Labor Day, after Christmas.”
We also know what kind of candy to expect on certain days: candy canes, sugar hearts, chocolate, candy corn, and instead of water breaks, we have coffee breaks, tea time, cocktail hour, and night caps.
One ad features an attractive young couple in bed. “The man is on top of the woman, presumably making love to her. However, her face is completely covered by a magazine, open to a double-page photo of a car.”
“ The man is gazing passionately at the car. The copy reads, ‘The ultimate attraction.’”
People say, “I don’t pay attention to ads. I just tune them out. They have no effect on me.”
“ Much of advertising’s power comes from this belief that it does not affect us. As Joseph Goebbels said, “This is the secret of propaganda: those who are to be persuaded by it should be completely immersed in the ideas of the propaganda, without ever noticing that they are being immersed in it.”
“ I once heard an alcoholic joke that Jack Daniels was her most constant lover.”
“ When I was a smoker, I felt that my cigarettes were my friends. Advertising reinforces these beliefs so we are twice seduced—by the ads and by the substances themselves.”
“ Advertising performs much the same function in industrial society as myth did in ancient societies. It is both a creator and perpetuator of the dominant values of the culture, the social norms by which most people govern their behavior. At the very least, advertising helps to create a climate in which certain values flourish and others are not reflected at all.”
“ Infiniti is an automobile; Hydra Zen is a moisturizer, and Jesus is a brand of jeans.”
“ Consumerism has become the religion of our time (with advertising its holy text), but the criticism usually stops short of what is at the heart of the comparison. Both advertising and religion share a belief in transformation.”
The back cover of Crazy Times Call for Crazy Organizations pictures the author (Tom Peters) dressed in a gray suit from the waist up, and in loud orange-print undershorts from the waist down.
This is followed by the following quote from the book: “Welcome to a world where imagination is the source of value in the economy. It’s an insane world, and in an insane world, sane organizations make no sense.”
The 75-member sales team of IBM’s Inside Sales Center made a pick-up orchestra, and recorded their sales in fun ways—by smashing a gong, or by moving a toy race-horse around a race track. In the saddles were pictures of the various sales personnel.
Within a year their sales figures went up by 30 percent.
In their Humor at Work , Esther Blumenfield and Lynne Alpern tell about a group of women who had a co-worker who would routinely drop his pencil on the floor so that he could look under the table at their legs.
So the ladies used a magic marker to print on their knees, one letter per kneecap: “HI RALPH.”
3. Because humor is based on enjoying what is unexpected, humor gets us out of ruts and helps us think more creatively.
4. Because humor involves switching perspectives, it helps us cope with change and increases our tolerance for ambiguity and uncertainty.
5. Because humor helps people develop rapport with each other, it serves as a social lubricant. Companies which promote humor have higher morale, more loyalty to the company, and closer bonds among employees.
“‘ Dilbert” themes include downsizing, heavy work loads, micromanagement of budgets, humiliating small cubicles, the accelerating pace of change, corporate gobbledegook, management fads, cruel bosses, annoying colleagues, and red tape.”
Guy Kawasaki, a management expert at Apple Computer says: “There are only two kinds of companies, those that recognize that they’re just like ‘Dilbert,’ and those that don’t know it yet.”
In 1994, Fortune magazine featured Kelleher “dressed in a WWI-style leather aviator’s helmet and goggles flying with just his arms. The caption read, “Is Herb Kelleher America’s Best CEO? He’s wild; he’s crazy; he’s in a tough business—and he has built the most successful airline in the U.S.”
The article goes on to show how “Kelleher’s sense of humor, his quick mind and business savvy, and his ability to create an enthusiastic team are interrelated.”
In his job interviews, one of the questions that Kelleher asks is, “Tell me how you recently used your sense of humor in a work environment. Tell me how you have used humor to defuse a difficult situation.” He explains why:
“ What we are looking for, first and foremost, is a sense of humor. We don’t care that much about education and expertise, because we can train people…. We hire attitudes.”
As chair of the National Council of Teachers of English’s Committee on Public Doublespeak, William Lutz has been a watchdog of public officials who use language to “mislead, distort, deceive, inflate, circumvent, obfuscate.”
Each year the committee presents the Doublespeak Award, recognizing the most outrageous use of public doublespeak in the worlds of government and business.
Lutz considers doublespeak to be “language which pretends to communicate but doesn’t, language which makes the bad seem good, the negative appear positive, the unpleasant attractive, or at least tolerable.”
“ Defenders of the Bush administration’s war policies reject all imputations of deceit. True, some among them acknowledge, their predictions turned out to be wrong; true, they may have relied on faulty intelligence or untrustworthy informants. But they spoke in error, they insist, never intending to mislead.”
“ Increasing numbers now question whether intelligence was simply erroneous or whether it was twisted, ‘cherry-picked,’ to mislead the public.”
“ They are skeptical about the sincerity of those who claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and who issued warnings such as that ‘the smoking gun that could turn into a mushroom cloud’ or who claimed to know that Saddam Hussein was in league with Al-Quaeda.”
“ Even among those who hold such sharply discordant views, however, there are two areas of agreement. First, most people now agree that President Bush and other public officials presented arguments to support going to war that relied on evidence later found to be false. Second, most also agree that the burden of death, disability, and suffering resulting from the invasion is far greater than the proponents of going to war had predicted.”
The humor in the funny traffic schools is always “on task.”
One instructor said that an extra reason for keeping a child safe in a backward-facing car seat is “If you get rear-ended, you’ve got a witness.”
Another instructor said that most car accidents happen within 10 miles from home and then says, “The last time I mentioned that, a guy jumped up in the back of the class and said, ‘That’s it. I’m moving!’”
Boland, R. J., and R. Hoffman. “Humor in a Machine Shop: An Interpretation of Symbolic Action.” in Organizational Symbolism Eds. L. R. Pondy, P. J. Frost, G. Morgan, and T. C. Dandridge. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press, 187-198.
Bradney, Pamela. “The Joking Relationship in Industry.” Human Relations 9.2 (1957): 179-187.
Bryson, Bill. “The Hard Sell: Advertising in America” (Eschholz, Rosa & Clark : 424-436).
Chattopadhyay, Amitava, and Basu Kunal. “Humor in Advertising: The Moderating Role of Prior Brand Evaluation.” Journal of Marketing Research 27.4 (1990): 466-476.
Consalvo, Carmine. “Humor in Management: No Laughing Matter.” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Research 2.3 (1989): 285-297.
Nilsen, Alleen Pace. “Why Big Businesses Break Spelling Rules” (Eschholz [9 th Edition]: 372-380).
Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen. Encyclopedia of 20 th Century American Humor . Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000.
Parkinson, Jane. “Business Humor: Boos and Bravos.” Unpublished LIN 790 PowerPoint. Tempe, AZ: ASU, 2009.
Paulson, Terry. Making Humor Work:Take Your Job Seriously and Yourself Lightly . Los Altos, CA: Crisp, 1989.
Perry, Stephen D., Stefan A. Jenzowsky, Joe Bob Hester, Cynthia M. King, and Huiuk Yi. “The Influence of Commercial Humor on Program Enjoyment and Evaluation.” Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 74 (1997): 388-399.