Humor is effective in marketing because it humanizes and surprises. You can play it straight and write a blog post that clearly and emphatically states how your computer router can handle up to 6.4 terabits of data. Or you can get the point across and create something relatable, charming and (of course!) shareable. Cisco did this by positioning its decidedly impersonal router as the perfect "forever" gift for Valentine's Day: "Nothing says I love you like the Cisco ASR 9000." The former is boring. The latter infuses the message and brand with a human element that's anything but expected.
For small, scrappy brands, "humor can help you stand out in a crowded world," says the brains behind the router ad, Tim Washer, Cisco's senior marketing manager of social media and a comedy writer whose credits include Late Show With David Letterman and Saturday Night Live.