Today the Brand Newsroom team looks at how brands use humour to interact with their customers on social media. Is it ever a good idea? Or can it spectacularly backfire? And, sometimes, are brands perhaps using humour in the hope they will “go viral”, rather than focusing on first marketing principles and giving customers the good service they expect.


First up, here’s the article about Tesco responding to the tweet about their mobile product.

  • Interacting with customers on social can be an opportunity to be funny but there’s also an opportunity to offend people — so be careful how you do it.
  • Sarcasm doesn’t work. People don’t like seeing that come from brands. Be self-effacing.
  • Don’t ever make fun of natural or human disasters.

“You could easily just ignore it but Tesco has jumped on it, they’ve seen it as an opportunity to be witty and capture some attention.” — James


  • Monitor how your brand name is being used on social and respond to it if necessary — whether that’s with humour or not.
  • Consumers like it when two brands interact on social with humour.

“You don’t want to offend people, you want to bring people along.” — Sarah


  • While marketing managers might want to “go viral”, it’s not always in the best interest of the brand. Ask yourself why you’re doing it before you try to “go viral”.
  • If you’re going to use humour it should be part of your strategy — know how you’re going to use it, have guidelines, stick to them.
  • Have some courage. It can pay off.

“There are certain brands out there that try a little too hard. It’s very obvious and you will pay for it.” — Nic


Here are the links you might need

  • Sarah mentioned Mention, the social media monitoring service. You can find it here.
  • Here’s an article about the Greggs and Google back-and-forth from a couple of years ago.
  • If you want to know more about Charmin’s #tweetfromtheseat, check out this article.
  • You can #dunkinthedark with Oreo’s here. And the movie theatre’s reply is here.
  • Take a look at Black Milk Clothing’s social media humour disaster here. And here’s Luton Airport’s.
  • Here’s James’s hilarious example of a pun-filled (and rather fishy) Twitter exchange.
  • But really, the most fun you will have today is watching the John West ad Nic mentioned (it has actually been voted “the best ad of all time” in some polls).


Have you heard the one about…

Here’s James, Sarah and Nic’s discussion with Jordana Borensztijn about using humour in your content…


And here’s a discussion from last week about dealing with PR disasters…


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This week, after attending the 21st birthday celebration of prominent global advertising agency M&C Saatchi in Sydney, an article was published by the Mumbrella editorial team outing the agency for what they felt was inappropriate conduct. In the article, the team reported entertainment such as women bursting out of cakes, and burlesque dancers dressed in bondage lingerie performing with bags over their heads.

In this episode the Brand Newsroom team are joined by Tim Burrowes, Content Director of Mumbrella to discuss what this means for the marketing and advertising industry. According to the team, this event is a merely symptom of a larger problem of gender in the space.