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Washer, MBA '96, on How to Use Humor in Advertising

Inc. magazine
Dec. 31, 2010

Many of the most popular ad campaigns rely on humor--it's difficult to think of a more buzzed about spot than the Old Spice "I"m on a horse" hit--but not all companies are willing to go for the funny bone. And there's nothing more painful than comedy done wrong. 

Professional funnyman and Cisco senior marketing manager Tim Washer, MBA '96, spoke with Inc. magazine about how to effectively use humor in advertising and what mistakes to avoid.

“It still takes a lot of work to sell an entire organization on an ad campaign that employs humor, particularly on social media platforms,” says Tim Washer, a senior social media and marketing manager for Cisco Systems in New York City and a comedy writer/actor who has worked with Conan O’Brien, Jon Stewart, David Letterman and more. “Typically you have an entire marketing group and the whole fiber of your being is geared toward evangelizing your product and services. So someone will always feel left out. But talking solely about your product just doesn’t work.”


Comedy can be the great differentiator for any product, notes Washer. So when Cisco was releasing their new ASR 9000 in 2009, Washer helped to create a sketch around how many ways a man can show his wife he loves her, with the purchase of a new router was the humorous conclusion. 180,000 YouTube views, a New York Times blog mention and later detailed in David Meerman Scott’s best-selling book The New Rules of Marketing and PR, the executives at Cisco began to see the value of Washer’s overall belief in terms of humor in advertising.


“Humor, when executed properly, helps cut through the noise and helps you stand out,” Washer notes. “If you can make someone laugh, there is an emotional connection with them. And anything you say beyond that is going to be more meaningful.”

Read the full article on Inc's website.

See Washer's comedy chops as the leader of an Obsolete TV Support Group, his latest video for Cisco:

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