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Wednesday, 3rd December, 2014 | By Jeremy Girard | Category: Marketing and Trustcasting

How GE and Jeff Goldblum Can Help You Harness Your Light Bulb Marketing Moment

Do you want people to remember your company or your product? One of the ways you can achieve memorability is by using humor. Make someone laugh and you make an impression on them. Make an impression on them, and you are well on your to achieving memorability.

When I speak with companies about the value of using humor in their marketing, the objection I most often hear is:

“Our company / service / product just isn’t funny.”

This is a legitimate comment. After all, some products or services lend themselves much better to humor than others. A website for a company selling inflatable bouncy castles is much easier to make “fun” than an ad for an accounting firm. Still, I believe that many companies are convinced they cannot be funny, yet they have never really tried to do so.

Making light bulbs funny

Would you consider light bulbs “funny”? Probably not, but as a recent ad released by General Electric, and featuring actor Jeff Goldblum, shows, even a product as commonplace as a light bulb can use humor in its marketing.

In the ad, Goldblum plays a fictional “Famous Person” named Terry Quattro who extolls the value that good lighting has had on his career as a way to promote GE’s Link light bulb. The ad itself is hysterical and already going viral. Within days of being released, it was already well over a million views on YouTube. This is humor being used at its finest, but the video also does a wonderful job of promoting the product!

Watch the video and you will find that, between the silliness and humor, the writers have done a great job of explaining the value of these light tbulbs, including a low cost ($14.97) and long life (22 years). By wrapping those important messages along with ridiculous scenes that you can’t help but laugh at, they have created something unique and memorable. If all this ad did was explain the value of the light bulb, it would not stand out in any way, but by using humor, the writers and GE have created a fun spot that also does a great job of selling their product!

Sharing the funny

Besides being memorable, marketing that is genuinely funny also has a great shot at being shared by people who have enjoyed that ad.

After seeing the General Electric video, one of the first things I did was to share it on my social media accounts with my friends and contacts. This is par for the course these days. When someone sees something unique, or interesting, or amazing, or funny, one of their first inclinations is to share it with others. This is powerful because it allows your content to spread faster and reach a wider audience. Unlike online ads that are easily ignored and passed over, a shared piece of content, whether it is a video, an article, or some other kind of content, resonates with an audience in a stronger way. This is because that content is often being shared by someone they know, as opposed to being delivered via a faceless ad network.

If I am looking at my Facebook page and one of my friends shares a video and declares that it is “awesome” or “hysterical”, there is a much greater chance that I will give that content a chance than I will if I see it randomly advertised in the sidebar of some web page.

By using humor in your content, you give yourself a chance at being shared, and by being shared, you give your content the best chance to reach the widest audience.

Focus on the situation, not the product

One of the ways that General Electric was able to make an ad for light bulbs funny is by not actually trying to make the product itself funny. Instead, they created a comical situation and a character that introduced the humor to the ad. This ends up being a much easier road to travel than struggling to make a product like a light bulb comical. By placing that product in a comical environment, they still achieve the end result they want – an ad that makes people laugh and encourages sharing.

The aforementioned objection that “Our company / service / product is not funny” can be neutralized using the same approach that GE did for their Link light bulb. If the products or services your company offer do not naturally lend themselves to humor, think outside of the product’s box and take a cue from how GE solved this challenge.

You are not GE

OK, so one item that must be addressed here is the fact that your company is not General Electric and you likely do not have the resources or marketing budget that they have. GE was able to get writers Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareham, best known for their comedy work on the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim show, to create this ad. GE was also able to secure the talents of actor Jeff Goldblum for this spot. This company has the ability and money to secure these talents, but if you don’t, will this still work for you? The short answer is yes. While your ad may not have the same instant viral exposure that a Hollywood actor and a team of seasoned comedy writers can bring to the spot, that doesn’t mean you should abandon the idea of humor altogether.

If you work with a marketing or web agency, talk to them about your willingness to try introducing some humor into your marketing. Maybe there is one particular product or service that you can test it with, the same way that GE is using humor for this one product (as opposed to for their entire company). Brainstorm and think outside of your comfort zone a bit to see if you can come up with some ideas that will work for you.

Enhance your lighting

GE’s “Enhance Your Lighting campaign is an excellent example of a company and a product that wouldn’t readily be considered “funny” finding a way to add humor into their marketing. Check out the video and see what you can learn from what General Electric has done here. Connect with your marketing team to see how you may be able to use humor to increase the memorability and shareability of your next campaign idea.

Jeremy Girard
Jeremy Girard has been designing for the web since 1999. He is currently employed at the Providence, Rhode Island-based firm Envision Technology Advisors and also teaches website design and front-end development at the University of Rhode Island. In addition, Jeremy contributes regularly to a number of websites and magazines focused on business and the Web, including his personal site at Pumpkin-King.com.