Already a member? Login here.

Is There a Case for Using Humor in Copywriting?

Is There a Case for Using Humor in Copywriting?

October 17, 2016 | By Sheldon Gladstein | 1 Comment

Is There a Case for Using Humor in Copywriting?They tried to break my bones. My funny bones.

Who? The copywriting experts. The superstars, the masters, the gurus. The ones who’ve told the wannabes how they should be if they’re gonna be successful.

The ones who’ve said — Can the humor in copywriting. Closet the clever. Gag the gags.

But I would not give in.

The Case Against Using Humor in Copywriting

There it was, in all its redline glory. Every piece of wit in my copy draft, circling the drain. Me, the copywriting hopeful, being struck down, in glaring, red strikethrough markings.

There is no room for humor in copywriting, went the explanation. Very nice, very witty indeed. Use it in your nightclub act. Not in your direct-mail promotion.

Instead, I was pointed to the weighty words of many a copywriting heavy.

Like Milt Pierce, one of the legends of direct mail who said: “Avoid humor at all costs.”

Or Demian Farnworth, chief content writer for Rainmaker Digital, writing in the beacon for copywriting knowledge, Copyblogger, who has this to say: “The problem with humorous copy is that humor is fickle. It’s a minefield… What you find funny is likely insulting to others — and that will damage the effectiveness of your copy. That’s not a risk you should be willing to take… Your chances, however, are much better if you stick to clear, concise, and compelling copy.” In his opinion, humor ranks as one of the seven ways to write bad copy.

Master AWAI instructor Will Newman advises against using humor in your copy. It’s culture bound, and may be unintentionally offensive. It diverts reader attention from your core message. “If you want to capture your prospect’s imagination, do it by understanding his needs, his hopes, his desires, and his fears… Give him hope, not humor.”

Is There Any Hope for Humor?

But how about for the stubborn student… You know, the copywriter who respects the elders, but still has that gnawing need…


This article is reserved content for B2B Writing Success premium members. To continue reading this article please log in or become a member today.

About the Author

Sheldon Gladstein

Latest in B2B Copywriting

One Comment

  • Right on, right on! As a new copywriter I have struggled with this issue. I have heard so many times to not use humor, but then they turn around and tell me to find my voice and write like I am actually talking to the prospect. Well I am hilarious when I talk, I have a great sense of humor, so which one is it – don’t use humor or write like I would take to the prospect?

    I find myself stifling a lot of my voice when I write because my natural way to communicate is by using a lot of humor.

Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top