Could humour give us hope?

GOOD’s Executive Creative Director Bryn Attewell, reflects on why humour could be a powerful tool for the third sector in 2024

There was a time when funny campaigns were good campaigns. 

When jokes were told, and products were sold. 

When the ads were indeed better than the programmes. 

But at some time over the last however long, the industry forgot it had a funny bone. 

Someone somewhere decided wit was getting in the way. 

Fast forward to 2024, however, and everyone’s jumping on the bantswagon. 

There’s a new comedy category at Cannes. 

Everyone’s writing columns on the return of humour (erm…). 

And today I saw a recruitment ad for a ‘Funny Creative Team’. Someone desperately wants to win a Grand Prix, it seems. 

I’m in favour of hilarity, of course. Be a bit miserable to not be. 

But it can be a bit of a banana skin when you work with difficult subjects, as we do every day at GOOD. 

Disease. Poverty. Death. Animal cruelty. The climate emergency. 

Not exactly a comedy goldmine, unless you’re Ricky Gervais. 

But it’s a truth that even in our darkest moments, humour can help. 

It can make things you don’t want to talk about, OK to talk about. 

It can break down barriers. 

It can enlighten. 

Many years back I was lucky enough to work into ad legend John Webster, of Smash Martians, John Smith’s and Walkers Crisps fame (amongst many others). 

Nobody in this business knew more about jokes than John. 

But he offered up a great piece of advice, which I often think of. 

He cautioned against ‘humour that hurts’. 

He knew that comedy was a powerful tool. 

But he preferred to use it to build up, rather than tear down. 

I like that. 

Because when pointed in the right direction, humour can change perceptions and minds. 

And if it can do that, it can do good. 

Humour that gives us hope. 

Wouldn’t that be a funny thing?