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Nafsin, Nehla
Mr. Eisner
AP English Language
December 12, 2015
The Usage of Humour in Advertisements
When a product is marketed, much of the advertisement occurs away from where the
actual product is being sold. Because of this, advertisers must design their advertisements in a
way that catches the attention of the audience and remains in their memory. Pathos is a common
appeal that can be found in many advertisements, and humour is how many companies make
their mark on their audience. When something is funny, it registers positively within people and
lightens their mood. More importantly, because they find it funny, they are more likely to
remember it and they are also more inclined to share it with their friends and family like a joke
they might have heard. However, the witty aspect of an advertisement can often mask subliminal
hints that it may have.
In the McDonalds milkshake advertisement, a cow stands on a trampoline in a plain field
with grass and trees in the background. On the bottom left corner is the McDonalds logo and
their slogan, Im lovin it. The text beside it says The Real Milkshake. This play on words is
humourous because the word milkshake is taken and presented it literally. The visual of the
cow and the trampoline appeal to younger children who might not understand the the textual
element of the ad, and the text itself appeals to teenagers and adults who drink milkshakes. The
image of a cow on a trampoline is rather surreal, and the silly nature of this advertisement incites
a happy and positive emotion in the audience. While on the surface this ad simply wants you to
buy a milkshake, there are certain implications that are not obvious. Cattle is often raised in

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highly mechanical farms where they are fed and slaughtered in a way that is far from natural.
The field and the grass in the picture looks like the kind of place where a free-range cow might
graze. Although it is not directly implying this, seeing the cow in such an environment might
cause the audience to unconsciously assume that the cows that go into their food is raised in such
a place when that is hardly the case.
In the AEO advertisement, or American Eagle Outfitters for those who are familiar with
the brand initials and logo, consists of a girl. She is young, possibly in her early twenties, and is
dressed in a red sweater, jeans and a beanie. The out-of-focus backdrop is of a forest with what
seems to be pine trees. On the right, the text says, Yule Love This followed by the what is
presumably the brand logo an eagle. Below that, the text reads, 25-60% off along with the
AEO holiday collection and select styles. Prices as marked. Using yule as a pun for
youll causes a humorous effect. This advertisement was put up right around early December,
which makes it seasonally appropriate since yule is a direct reference to Christmas. It not only
does it put the audience in a happier mood, but it also puts them in a more festive mood. The red
from the girls sweater and the green from the backdrop also make it very seasonal. However,
even though the girl in the picture is wearing red, it cannot be said that they are specifically
Christmas clothes as what she is wearing is rather generic. This allows the audience pool to
contain people other than just those who celebrate Christmas. The pun once again helps catch
peoples attention to the advertisement and makes a place in their memory. The next time they
see that store, they will be more likely to go in. However, it is the 25-64% off that might cause
people to purposefully seek out the store. Even though they write select styles. Prices as
marked, it does not affect the audience greatly because the size of the font is relatively smaller
than the rest of the text. The sale is what they notice, and the sale is what they remember.

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The T-Mobile advertisement displays a sense of humour different from the McDonalds
and the American Eagle Outfitters ads. The commercial starts with the celebrity Kim Kardashian
introducing herself and then explaining how data is wasted every year. She then lists examples of
how that data could have been used to see pictures of her and asks the audience to keep their
data. A text screen follows informing the audience about the DataStash plan, and it ends with a
the T-Mobile logo and name. Throughout the commercial, she maintains a very grave tone even
though the things she says are not even remotely serious. This contrast creates a satirical effect
that subtly criticises people who are overly infatuated with famous people, which is gives a
feeling of amusement to people who think dislike the general masses obsession with Kim
Kardashian. They find it funny, which makes them remember it. They appreciate the humour,
which creates a bias in them that makes them consider buying the plan that was advertised. On
the other hand, for those who do like her, this advertisement is still appealing because they as
soon as they see her, they pay attention. Even if they are aware that the ad is sarcastic, they will
still be inclined to remember it. Kardashian being there implies that she endorses the product,
which might make her fans purchase the plan so they can be more like her.
People are inclined to buy things because buying is an essential expression of freedom
and individualism (Kulman 112). While it is used to express individualism, it is also used by
people to get closer to their idols and other icons the like. As Brown puts it, If Gucci says, Its
hot, it has to be, right? (122) But it is not only limited to icons. When a person likes another
persons sense of humour, they develop a bias towards them. Similarly, when people like a
particular companys sense of humour, they develop a bias towards that company and it might
make them have a weak spot for their products. However, humour has a greater role. It attracts
the audiences attention, which is practically half of the job of an advertisement. When an ad is

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funny, the audience remembers it, and the next time they come across the advertised product they
are more disposed to buy it. All the little details that go into each advertisement are unique to
each one, but the part humour plays in each is essentially the same. Humours job is to simply
get the audience to look. The subliminal clues take care of the rest.

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Works Cited
Brown, Luke. "Why Do We Buy? Is It Branding or Brainwashing?" Ed. Medford: The Tufts
Daily, 2004. 121-125. Print.
Kulman, Linda. "Materialism: Our Consuming Interest" Ed. U.S. News & World Report, 2004.
110-114. Print.
The Real Milkshake. Digital image. McDonald's Real Milkshake Cows. The Inspiration Room,
14 July 2012. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.
Yule Love This. Digital image. Twitter. American Eagle Outfitters, 10 Dec. 2014. Web. 12 Dec.
T-Mobile. NBC. Los Angeles, California, 1 Feb. 2015. Television.

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