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…