What is the importance of fun in brand marketing? Brian Lowe, Founder, President and CEO of BML Public Relations + Digital, highlights the powerful physiological impact of fun on increasing consumer awareness, loyalty and purchase. Brian also explains how brands can incorporate humor in campaign strategies, and why it’s time to publish positive content.
Download the full survey here: https://bmlpr.com/fun/
>> More episodes here
HOST: DOUG SIMON
GUEST: BRIAN LOWE
DOUG: We all want to have fun, whether at work or not, and now we’re finding that brands need to have fun to be successful, especially in their communications and marketing. Brian, why is it so important for brands to be fun?
BRIAN: Right now, heading out of the COVID pandemic, there’s just a craving for it. But aside from that, in general, before we even get into that, really there’s a physiological side that is really powerful that I think that brands might not think about enough. So, studies show that fun increases serotonin levels, which is the chemical that regulates most of our basic processes, like sleep, memory, and mood. So, it’s a very powerful tool that brands can and should harness to build awareness, engagement, and loyalty. I mean, that’s the other thing, it turns up things like nostalgia. So, it really has a positive impact within the minds of the target consumer. And really, in its simplest form, fun is what people migrate towards. Think about it, no one walks into a social situation and gravitates towards a person who looks like the hostage in a room, right? They’re really drawn towards the people who are having the most fun or at least the most enjoyable time.
DOUG: Great. Well, I’m getting to get my serotonin levels jacked up for this conversation because you did a survey on this. You focused on food and beverage, quick service, restaurant business, and travel, areas that are associated with fun. What do you find out that consumers wanted?
BRIAN: Pre-pandemic levels, brand Marketers were doing a lot of creative stunts from a PR standpoint and just creative marketing in general. And it really feels like we’re not back to those pre-pandemic levels yet. So, for us, I think it was important to stop and say, what are, what do consumers really want right now? Because my thought is and through a lot of conversations I had with people, I think brands were worried about coming off tone deaf or insensitive when there are things like conflict around the world, all those things. So, for us, it was most important to just really dial down and ask the questions. So, we called our friends at Harris Poll and that’s exactly what we did. We surveyed over 2,000 respondents. We found 85% of Americans agree that it’s time for the fun to return in marketing campaigns, which is a really, really strong statistic and almost a craving for it. There’s really a lot of fun that we can put back on the table because honestly, I think the country also needs it a little bit.
DOUG: Can you, in a fun way, explain what are some things consumers wanted?
BRIAN: We were very deliberate to find out, well, what are the things that people deem are the characteristics that make a brand fun? So, first, we found 62% of respondents say the humor in a brand’s TV, radio, online, social, and or print helps them consider a brand fun. Across the board, although there were differences in demographics, so some of the older people surveyed tended to migrate towards jingles. Celebrity involvement tended to appeal to the younger generations, but across the board, all age demographics agree that humor was a top choice.
DOUG: So, now you can’t be funny without the word fun in it, but even in my own brief standup comedy career, I’ve gone three for four for being successful, but for a brand, you don’t want that one for four to fail. You don’t want to be bombing. Humor can be difficult, how do you approach making your campaign fun and funny when people of different sensibilities and senses of humor?
BRIAN: So, there are a few things. I think you play there, right? So, just because your brand might not be perceived as fine or perhaps you’re in a category that is not typically fun, that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Everyone is born with a sense of humor. People want to laugh, experience new things. It’s a common thread of human existence. So, you know, we’re big believers in embracing It.
DOUG: I might have a little bit of a question for you about everybody being born with a sense of humor. I might have a couple of people I can introduce you to. What are some tips you have for brands in industries that aren’t well-known for being fun?
BRIAN: I think people immediately migrate towards, well, does it have to be shtick? And you can still have a conservative or more serious brand and still, again, have fun. So, from our standpoint, we look at it as, you know, be self-deprecating, or just try and be funny, or just not what your audience is used to, the message or the approach maybe that your audience is used to receiving from you. We also think that it’s important to be optimistic and upbeat, especially on social media. Keep the upbeat news going. I mean, it’s shareable content as well, right? So, we’re hoping that that makes a positive impact from a shareable standpoint. You know, even when you think about broadcast, right? A lot of times as PR professionals, we’re vying for the last 30 seconds of a newscast after they’ve talked about the war, and horrible things, and the pandemic. I think that there are plenty of things that you can do that are not a tremendous lift or a crazy, crazy investment to get there. I mean, I think it’s taking a step back. If it makes you laugh, it probably works.
DOUG: Yeah, and we’ve seen a lot of that in our work on the satellite media tour space, people either want stuff that’s going to help them out, help them get through their day, get more enjoyment, better results out of stuff or something that’s lighter that can get them to smile. Pet stories you see that all the time on the media, they’re great. Now, I’m not advocating that people turn this conversation into a drinking game every time, we said fun, but if you do so, please drink responsibly.
BRIAN: We wouldn’t get a lot done at all would we Doug?
DOUG: I know, it would be a pretty bust one here. But along those lines, do you want to leave people with sort of a lasting thought? How do they convince their clients, if it’s an agency perspective, that they really want to start engaging with people in a different way? Obviously, it’s so important for social media and other forms of communication.
Brian: Yeah, I mean, you know, I think like any campaign, right? Look at the Nike situation with Colin Kaepernick, right? I don’t think that Nike just went off on a whim and did some of those things without having data. So, knowing your audience, knowing the line of the brand, and their audience, and their target consumer, so that you make sure that you don’t cross it, but you’re having fun within those boundaries, right? You know, the other thing that I think is important, too, the survey also found that four in five Americans say that these challenging times, they crave news stories that are more fun versus dark. The media landscape has significantly shifted, and doom and gloom seem to sell. Remember when sex sold? Obviously, times are different then, but doom and gloom seem to be good for media and good for politicians. So, I would say it’s also just important to approach your clients in an in a positive way with, you know, a wide range of creative thought and what you think is a reality, and what is feasible within budget. But I think at the end of the day, I think although the news cycle is doom and gloom, I think that as brand marketers, we can continue to push more of this through and inject that levity into the news cycle that we so desperately need.
DOUG: You’ve established yourself as someone people would gravitate towards at a party. Thanks so much for sharing your insights and wisdom and doing it in a fun way. I want to give folks a last chance.
BRIAN: Thanks, Doug. I appreciate the time. And what I will say is that we have the full results of the survey on our website in a white paper that people can check out by visiting https://bmlpr.com/fun/.
DOUG: Perfect, and we’ll link to that in the post as well. Thanks so much for spending time with us.
BRIAN: Awesome. Thanks for having me. Doug, Be good.