The use of comedic violence in viral advertising is becoming widespread, but as yet no examination of what influence it may have on consumer response has been undertaken. Two experimental studies using a commercial panel sample investigate the effects of this executional cue on ad message involvement, brand memorability, likelihood of being passed on to third parties, and attitude formation. Results suggest that humorous ads that combine higher levels of violence intensity with more severe consequences appear to elicit greater involvement with the ad message, better retention of brand information, higher pass-along probability, and greater ad likability. Attitudes toward the brand remain unaffected. Furthermore, justification for the violence and relatedness to the product brand appear to be important considerations when using high intensity-severe consequence comedic violence. The paper specifies conditions under which advertisers can expect to gain maximum impact when using violent humor in viral advertising campaigns.
Source: “The Impact of Comedic Violence on Viral Advertising Effectiveness” from Journal of Advertising, Volume 39, Number 1 / Spring 2010, Pages: 49 – 66