Using Irony to Make Your Marketing Content Humorous

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Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think.
It’s like rain on your wedding day.
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid.
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take.
Who would’ve thought, it figures.

Feel free to break out into a jam session to the above song. Aside from a flashback to an era when fashion choices featured the Canadian tuxedo, the point of mentioning Ironic is that much like the lyrics, irony can be used to make your content more humorous.

Irony And Sarcasm: The Challenging Duo That Can Lead To Humor 

Irony is a bit fickle. It’s one of those things that’s hard to capture without sounding completely disingenuous, clichéd, or sarcastic. While the latter can be helpful when adding a bit of humor to your marketing pieces, the other two are more likely to lose you readers. So, how do you combine irony with sarcasm to create the all-powerful humorous post?

State of Marketing Report 2024

The answer: practice. And here you thought that this post was going to be helpful…oh the irony. (See what I did there?) Although to be fair, it is entirely ironic that this is a post about using irony to create humor when the literary tool was first used in Greek tragedies. But I digress. Without further ado, here are a couple tried and true tips for putting irony into your content marketing pieces.

  • Try Visual Irony. Visual irony typically occurs when two or more images that don’t belong together (like a balding man using a hairbrush designed for someone with flowing locks) are used to make a point. Mostly these unusual pairings can be seen in videos where character or a scene are at such opposing ends of the spectrum that your audience can’t help but to laugh. Save the visual irony for social media video posts, or as part of a slidedeck where a video clip can easily be embedded to the amusement of your viewers.
  • Create An Ironic Persona. For this technique, think of the E-Trade babies of 2014. Clearly babies shouldn’t be acting like adults by partaking in financial decisions, and yet irony of all ironies, this marketing strategy helped to get E-Trade onto the map. The mismatch of personas is a great way to bring humor to your marketing materials.

Irony Meet Playful. Playful Meet Confidence. You Three Are Going To Be Best Friends. 

The above two tactics won’t steer you wrong if you want to use irony hand-in-hand with sarcasm. However, if you want to go for something a little more unique (that happens to translate well onto paper), then you should try combining irony with playfulness and, most importantly, confidence. Getting this combination right is about more than simply embracing your inner quirky dork.

Clearly with my earlier song reference, my inner quirky character is not only embraced, it is on full display at the most inopportune moments. Don’t worry, the embarrassing instances of quirkiness on display at the worst moments won’t happen to you if you follow the next pieces of advice.

  • Irony becomes playful humor when you address a classic social routine that will be easily recognized by your audience. For example, if you are an ecommerce site, your confirmation purchase email might say that “your item is being shipped from our very best store,” which of course is a reference to any waiter who will tell you about the “best items on the menu.” It’s also a nod to the pretense that “our products are the best,” which always exists at some level in a marketing-based relationship.
  • Confidence can be embraced with a little self-mockery. In the words of Steve Martin, “A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.” Aside from eliciting a small chuckle, the quote highlights how a bit of playful irony can lead to an honest consumer relationship. In other words, if your audience relationship is based in commerce (no matter its shape, size, or type), then you might as well have the confidence to embrace it with a bit of panache and, of course, some much needed mockery.
  • Ironic self-deprecation is not just being quirky or weird. In fact, in many ways, weird is easy. Being confident in your ability to playfully interject irony into your content marketing is not. The key to successfully achieving this type of irony is to always acknowledge its purpose. After all, without purpose, any marketing tactic is just another digital attempt that leads to being upstream without a paddle (and there’s no humor in that type of ironic flop).

The Bottom Line: Irony Can Be Humorous With An Artful Touch

Like many things in life, irony for irony’s sake does not typically lead to humorous content marketing materials. However, purposeful irony that is both playful and confident, can and will lead to well-placed humorous undertones that your audience will appreciate and respond to. Finally, if irony isn’t your style then don’t worry, you only wasted five minutes of your time reading a post that is not even remotely useful for you. Fortunately, in an ironic twist, I do have another post recommendation that just might be up your alley.


2024 State of Marketing Report

Your golden ticket to crush your goals with data-driven insights!

2024 State of Marketing Report

Your golden ticket to crush your goals with data-driven insights!

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