Is humor an effective way to get an important message across?

The videos below are part of MADD Canada’s public television campaigns. Every time I catch one airing on TV, I always turn up the sound and have a little giggle fest. I mean…you have to admit, they are a riot! And heck, I always thought that would make them very effective at hitting home with their target audience.


At the same time, I am wondering if humor like this is an effective way to get the point across? Or does a little bit of the seriousness get lost in the funny bits?

Do you think either of these commercials would make a teen or young adult sit up and take notice or would they just laugh it off? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Two years ago, my beautiful mother-in-law’s life was cut tragically short by an impaired driver and my stepson’s life changed forever. In honor of Donna and Jordan Kennie, please don’t drink and drive. Impaired driving is 100% preventable. Think about it.

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  1. Love you! And thanks for the cool shout out.

    Hmmm, I want to say these are effective, but that’s because I don’t get high and I understand the message in there. But really, if a kid isn’t going to listen to their parents I don’t think they’ll listen to a talking wall hanging that sounds like Sebastian from ‘The Little Mermaid’. (I kept expecting him to break into song). Now that might’ve gotten their attention.

    On further reflection I think maybe inserting some of these humorous ads in between the serious ones could be effective. That whole, repeat five times an they’ll hear it, mentality. And you know, the more they hear the message the sooner it might sink in.

    What I love about these ads is they are aimed at pot smoking. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard people argue that pot smoking isn’t as dangerous as drinking. Um, yeah it is! You’re still goofed up in the head. But then, this comes from a girl who won’t even drive if I’m on one pain pill. It makes me all wonky and no one needs to be on the road when they’re more wonky than usual. 😉

    • I couldn’t agree more. I think inserting humour in and around serious awareness campaigns can be effective. And I LOVED that these touched on smoking pot and driving because I don’t know HOW many people I know that not only think driving while high isn’t as dangerous as driving drunk – they actually think they drive BETTER stoned. Douchebags – totally!
      I just LOVE you Tameri – thanks so much for your support!!

  2. It’s an interesting question. I’m sure they have a test group that takes a look at all their messages to see which would be more effective. Perhaps mixing them up is the answer so that the kids who don’t respond to the serious ones might pay attention to the talking wall hanging! As long as they keep banging out the messages, let’s hope lives are saved from all of them.

    • Amen to that Patricia! I am sure they did a number of focus groups and try a variety of approaches to get the message across. You are right, as long as they keep putting it out there, that’s what counts!

  3. I tend to agree with Tameri. They could be effective, but they need to be mixed in with the serious ones. Kids (and some adults) don’t understand how fragile life is and how easily one stupid decision can take it away. Inundating them with morbid stuff won’t work, either, but a mix of the two might.

    Thought-provoking post, Natalie.

  4. I think the idea behind using humor is in what Tameri mentioned – the message getting through by repetition. Teens tend to block out anything that sounds like a lecture. But humor at least grabs their attention long enough for them to HEAR the message. Listening to it may take more, but it’s a step in the right direction, maybe?

    Hard to say. However effective, I think it is good that organizations are willing to try different methods to get the message across.

  5. I think humor is a FANTASTIC way to relay messages. Since individuals respond to different techniques, I feel variety is important—especially regarding life-and-death issues like drunk driving. I imagine that humor seems like a breath of fresh air to many youth who feel overly preached at, and like you and Tameri pointed out, can really nab their attention.

    Thanks for the great post and warm shout out! 🙂

  6. Karen McFarland says:

    This is a serious subject that may make some people uncomfortable, so humor is a great way to open their hearts and minds to an important message. As said above, it’s less preachy and it will hopefully attract the youth’s attention. Whether or not they are mature enough to get the message, that one remains to be seen. But one can only hope. It means their life!

    Thank you for more blog deliciousness! I have read August’s interview, great as always. But I’m running right now to check out the others. You and your DH have a wonderful weekend Natalie! 🙂

  7. I agree with Tameri and August – a variety and repetition is the key. Different individuals respond to different techniques. Like with any advertising, there must be an element of unexpected to stick with the viewer.

    Have a fabulous weekend, Natalie. Hugs.

  8. I know what you mean about humor; sometimes you remember the funny but forget the message. Thanks, Natalie!

  9. Oh, I think funny works. Kids mimic it and then it gets absorbed into their psyche and their culture. It can be effective shorthand.

    However, some kids won’t pay attention to anything that is said. Nothing. 😦

  10. I don’t know what’s effective to make people wake up to the stupidity of driving while impaired. I think these ads are humorous, though. Maybe they work, though. If they save someone’s life, worth it.

  11. Teens and young adults are of the mindset that parents don’t know anything and that nothing bad will ever happen to them. Tons of repetition in various ways can work. Unfortunately, one of the ways they learn and pay attention is when a friend dies in an accident after driving drunk or high.

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