Reaching Global Markets: Humour as a Universal Language | LBBOnline

Being an expat kid turned advertising adult in New York has its pros and cons. Con: You might have to discreetly Google some ads, shows, movies, or bands, to get your creative directors’ references. 

Pro: You instinctively look at the work through an international lens.

I was born in Brazil and have since lived in Spain, The Netherlands, China, and now in the US. As someone who is part of the international target looking in, I’ve found that language and cultural references can pose a big barrier to making work that resonates beyond the US. However, there are some devices that can cross barriers, the most significant being humour. It turns out that laughter really is a universal language.

When done well, in an authentic and unexpected way, humour can lessen an audience’s resistance to advertising because they feel seen. In turn, an insight will resonate that much more, because all audiences can laugh with you. 

That’s why I think Snickers’ “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” work is so memorable and has stood the test of time. Even if you don’t know who Betty White is—which would be a shame no matter where you’re from—the image of an 88 year-old acting like a 20 year-old and getting tackled on a football field is universally funny. 

At the end of every piece of Snickers work, you get that ‘aha!’ moment that makes you feel like you’re in on the joke. When it came to ensuring the recent Snickers’ Hungry Skies campaign could work across global markets, we leaned into the same blend of relatability and humour that made the previous Snickers work succeed beyond the States. And what’s more relatable than a crazy flight story?

With 6 million passengers flying across the globe each day, there are new crazy flight stories every single day. And if you don’t have a wild aeroplane story, maybe you’re someone else’s. This universal experience felt ripe for funny, relatable moments that would get people laughing with us again. After all, no one likes seeing bare feet on their plane, dealing with difficult emotional support animals, or sitting next to the passenger that’s telling you their whole life story. By rallying against that in a way we can all laugh with each other (and at ourselves) we found a way to naturally connect with people. 

And in my opinion, that’s the key. Not forcing a joke when it doesn’t fit or overexplaining. The secret is, your target will understand your joke if it is coming from a universal insight. And that’s why You’re Not You When You’re Hungry always works – everyone gets hangry, no matter where you’re from. That’s what makes the creative platform so successful, and why we’ve been able to adapt to local insights and run work that makes people laugh in over 75 countries.

Read More: Reaching Global Markets: Humour as a Universal Language | LBBOnline

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