#About Humour in Marketing and Advertising Communication, and Tesco’s Valentine’s Day Campaign

According to Crawford (1994), humour is one of the most persuasive and successful communication strategies. Nevertheless, humour is a part of the communication process and it has a psychological motivation dependent on interpretation of the message receiver and the social context (Lynch 2002; Meyer 2000).

Majority of the research and available knowledge focuses on the use of humour in advertising, however, marketing communications research has shown that the use of humour in adverts leads to positive brand perceptions and feelings towards brands (de Pelsmacker & Geuens, 1999).

A good example of a recent use of humour in marketing and advertising is a British retailer Tesco. I have already commented on Tesco’s new communication strategy in one of my previous blogs. Their new communication strategy, as already mentioned, is clearly centred on the use of humour where a new Tesco family is entertaining us in a series of Tesco’s TV promotions. However, during recent Valentine’s Day promotions Tesco again made me laugh when I saw outdoor adverts in Leeds. The adverts had a photo of red roses and a sentence stating ‘All you need is love (and a fiver)’. Unfortunately, I did not take a photo of these adverts because I did not expect I will fail to find an image online.

Nevertheless, unlikely for other companies who promoted their Valentine’s Day offers, Tesco opted for humour with which it made an attempt to influence purchase behaviour of customers and it also made fun of materialism surrounding the Valentine’s Day, i.e. yes we do all need love but in order to celebrate love we also need money. Therefore, there is no love without money even if many claim that love is all that matters. Such as Beatles in their famous song Love is All You Need, which this advert also reminds of.

Obviously, as pointed out by Berger (1987), someone can be funny without telling a joke just like someone can tell a joke and not be perceived as funny. In Tesco’s case the Valentine’s Day advert was 3in1, i.e. irony, humour and a sale promotion.

On the other hand, Tesco also engaged in fun cause of putting people together and sending them on a date. In a fun video people are assessed based on what they put in their basket, and matched by an official matchmaker. As it turns out, people were matched well and when they meet in Tesco they agree on going out on a date. At the end, some couples decided to see each other again, and we see the matchmaker cheering for her success.

Anyway, I got amused with all promotions from Tesco and reminded of Beatles’ wonderful song. Consequentially, I just had to publicly applaud Tesco’s new communication strategy again.

Thank you for reading.


Berger, A. A. (1987). Humour: An introduction. American Behavioral Scientist, 30(3), pp. 6-15.

Crawford, C. B. (1994). Theory and implications regarding the utilization of strategic humour by leaders. The Journal of Leadership Studies, 1(4), pp. 53-67.

De Pelsmacker, P., & Geuens, M. (1999). The advertising effectiveness of different levels of intensity of humour and warmth and the moderating role of top of mind awareness and degree of product use. Journal of Marketing Communications, 5(3), pp. 112-139.

Lynch, O. (2002). Humourous Communication: Finding a place for humour research. Communication Theory, 12(4), pp. 423-445.

Meyer, J. C., 2000. Humour as a Double edged Sword: Four Functions of Humour in Communication. Communication Theory, 10(1), pp. 210-331.


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