That's Not Funny Here: Humorous Advertising Across Boundaries

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Advertisers worldwide spend the equivalent of hundreds of billions dollars annually and it is estimated that, depending on the media, between 10 percent and 35 percent of ads are attempts at humour. Just the top 100 global companies spend well over $100 billion on at least three continents. It is no surprise that in a world of CNN, Sky News, BBC, YouTube and Blogs that it is harder to compartmentalize the effects of advertising to the intended country or audience. Here we examine the complexities of humorous advertising in the context of attempts to cross boundaries rather than the more common term 'borders' used in many discussions of global advertising. Our reason is that boundary defines a much broader meaning which goes beyond simple country to country differences. The term boundary opens up for discussion many more ways that audiences differ and where advertising humour can face the same obstacles as when ads are seen in more than one country.

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