Raahil Chopra
Jun 20, 2016

Cannes Lions 2016: "There has to be a connect": Sergio Spaccavento

The ECD of Italian agency Conversion spoke about humour in advertising

Cannes Lions 2016:
Humans experience laughter at the age of three to four months, even before they start talking. And the average adult laughs 16 times a day. 
Sergio Spaccavento, ECD, Conversion, kicked off with these observations at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2016 on 19 June, as he delved into humour in advertising.
Viral marketing
The speaker pointed to some statistics to underline the relevance of humour. By 2019, eighty per cent of mobile traffic will come from videos, he noted, adding that a million videos were uploaded on the internet every second last year. Ninety five per cent of the videos online are meant to entertain, while two thirds are supposed to be funny. 
A clip from the movie The Imitation Game followed.

Citing that example, he said, "He was trying to build a joke.We are social animals and are know at least one joke. People love jokes. So, if the content is based on amazing stuff, sex, violence or humour, it works. If it makes you laugh, there's a good chance of it being shared."
Structure of a joke 
The ECD then spoke about the structure of a joke. Much like a brand story told through an ad, it has an introduction, and develops before a punchline is delivered. "Being surprised is important. If one can complete the joke at the first two stages, then it's not funny. Try tickling yourself; you won't laugh. When a friend or someone does that to you at the same place, it's different. Humour depends on location, culture, maturity and level of education among other factors. You need one of surprise, exaggeration, comparison, personification and machinery, puns, satire, parody, black humour, screwball, silliness, slapstick or overturning to make a joke," explained the speaker.

He added, "Everybody uses humour to create a desired action. Advertising uses humour to create a desired action, which is gain attention. Eighty per cent of decisions a human makes are emotional. Funny stuff is liked 16 per cent more than serious stuff. Funny stuff is 97 per cent more likely to be considered. It has a conversion rate of 77 per cent. But, you can't use humour just for the sake of it. There has to be a connect."
After showcasing examples of two funny ads from Italy – one for Fiat and the other for an optician, Spaccavento had a word of caution too: "Humour works differently across the world." 

The ad had to be run differently in Italy, where the fart had to be replaced with the squirrel blowing air instead, he revealed. 
He surmised, "Use humour where there's relevance."
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