Here’s how brands can infuse ‘Zabardast’ and not ‘Zabardasti ka humour’ in ads

From timing and trust in the creative process to authenticity, advertising leaders shed light on the essential elements needed to create a truly funny ad

Archana Raj
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Delhi: In the world of advertising, telling the difference between 'zabardast humour' and 'zabardasti ka humour' is really important, as pointed out by an advertising expert. 

Finding the sweet spot between entertainment and persuasion in ads is like walking a tightrope. Overdo the humour, and the message drowns in laughter; ignore it, and risk blending into the ad clutter. Therefore, wielding it effectively demands skill.

Ashish Khazanchi, Managing Partner at Enormous, stated that many advertisements resort to forced humour, incorporating funny-looking faces. Therefore, the attempts at humour fall flat 99% of the time.

Azazul Haque, Chief Content Officer, shared with, "When everyone's cracking jokes, you won't laugh anymore." Secondly, he observed that when humour saturates everything, consumers may no longer find it amusing.

Ajay Gahlaut, Independent Creative and Former CCO at Dentsu Creative, also emphasised, "Making people laugh is extremely tough. Those who can do it consistently are at a premium."

Here’s the checklist to follow in an attempt to ‘Zabardast humour’ in ads:

In the first part of the story, BestMediaInfo highlighted the current lack of humour in Indian ads, as noted by experts in the field.

In the second part, explores the challenges of incorporating humour into advertisements and shares tips suggested by advertising leaders on effectively integrating 'zabardast' humour into ads.

Connect life’s relatable incidents to the need for the product

To create a brilliantly funny ad, Shivil Gupta, Creative and Strategy Consultant, suggested, “One has to cleverly connect life's chaos to why people need the product, in a humorous way, which could be a task not easily accomplished.” 

The ad creator’s sense of humour matters

Akashneel Dasgupta, the former Chief Creative Officer at Network Advertising stated that while it's relatively easier to evoke sadness in viewers, humour relies heavily on individuals' senses of humour.

Hemant Shringy, CCO, FCB Ulka, said, “Some have a natural talent for it. And I think having the right sensibility and sensitivity in humour is extremely important.”

Trust in the creative process

Reflecting on this, Rajesh Ramaswamy, Founder of The Script Room, stated that the challenge comes in selling a sense of humour.  He noted that humour requires a suspension of logic, which can be hard to convey on paper and requires imagination and trust in the creative process.

“One needs to be a good presenter for the joke to land in the initial selling stage. A lot of good humorous scripts get dropped off along the way because of these reasons,” he said. 

It is all about timing

When emphasising timing as a key factor in incorporating humour, Ashish Chakravarty, Executive Director, and India Head of Creative, Mccann Worldgroup opined that humour requires consistent skill and an understanding of comedic timing.

Drawing parallels with stand-up comedy and even taking comedic icons, for instance, Govinda, he stated that there was a great sense of timing and a great sense of absurdity and observational humour seen in them.

Elaborating on this, KV Sridhar, aka Pops, Founder, and Chief Creative Officer, seconded Chakravarty and said, “Humour is all about timing that you need to set up, and most often, in good humour, the consumer knows it, the viewer knows it, and the characters don't.”

Authenticity and storytelling

The need for authenticity and relatability in crafting humorous scenarios within advertisements is vital, the experts suggest.

Experts believe that ultimately, the effectiveness of humour in advertising lies in its ability to resonate with the audience and make the brand a part of their entertainment experience.

Sridhar further suggested that having people who understand real emotions and have good storytelling skills is pivotal. 

“Observing human behaviour helps gather insights to grab whichever emotion you want, be it humorous or a tragedy," he added.

Don’t fake funny

Khazanchi emphasised, "You can feign seriousness, adopt a sense of gravitas, or embrace social responsibility, but you can't fake being funny. If it doesn't bring in a genuine response and if it doesn't land as humour, then it's simply not funny."

Creative freedom

Shringy underscored this point, noting the fact that influencers, content creators, memes and reels are doing it. ‘I think humour needs a little more freedom than we in advertising don’t always allow.’