Sunday, March 13, 2011

Puns Are Permitted - But You'd Better Be Appealing To An Intelligent Audience!

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Note: This article was written by Douglas Castle, and first published in Mad Marketing Tactics! (, Sending Signals! (, Braintenance (, and, of course, the Jupiter Hollow Messenger, a publication which does not really exist, but which sounds homey.

PUNS ARE PERMITTED - But You'd Better Be Appealing To An Intelligent Audience!

Dear Mad Marketers, TNNWC Members, Underappreciated MENSA types, Cerebrotonics, Nerds, Geeks and Lovers of the English Language:

In getting your message across effectively, humor is often a helpful social lubricant (try not to picture this). The type of humor truly depends on your targeted audience. If you dealing with an increasing illiterate public, visual humor is the order of the day, while subtle humor may well be lost on your prospective market.

It is imperative that before you embark on a campaign to develop slogans, themes, logos and other branding components, you conduct a bit of market research to determine 1) how receptive these prospects will be to your chosen branding components (including humor), and 2) if a particular type of humor or theme might not be consistent with the best perception of your service or product. Sometimes, well-intended humor may be perceived as irreverent, inappropriate or even insulting. In marketing, a bad joke can equate to fewer leads, less conversion, and lower sales.

Having said this, if you're dealing with celebrants of the written word (i.e, smartasses how enjoy word games), puns (which are best when boldly placed in written form) will be magnetic and viral. Good puns travel quickly from person to person, through social media, forwarded emails and through other means of rapid transmission. Just be certain to link the attribution of the pun to your brand.

Two simple examples of puns follow. While these might seem funny in a certain context, they might seem "off-color" in other contexts. I've tried to set the stage for each, to give you an example of appropriate context:

1) If you're selling overpriced and extremely fashionable shoes to urban walkers in a densely populated business district -

"These are the times that try men's soles," might be nice.

2) If you're marketing an alternative form of financing than that which is offered (if any is offered at all) by the popularly loathed investment banking houses and giant money-center banks -

"Goldman Sachs doesn't need religion. They already know how to prey," could make you some friends.

Now you may get back to work. Thank you.


Douglas Castle



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