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An eBook with insights from the

experts on how to properly use


humor for brands
Winning with Wit
Branded Entertainment and
the Age of Viral Humor


How to Win with
Wit in the Age
of Viral Humor
Our Experts in
Viral Humor
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4
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9
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12
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5
How Branded
Humor Works
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Stephanie Agresta, MSLGROUP
Damon Berger, Whats Trending
Brian Janosch, Cultivated Wit
Quinn Kilbury, Newcastle Brown Ale
Jonah Minton, Fullscreen
Jaco Peeringa, VIMN North Europe
President Obama Musters the
Courage to Create a Comedic Connection
WestJet Creates an Emotional Brand
Experience that Makes You Laugh
Kids Provide a Funny Prism
into an Alternate Reality
Comedy Central Offers A Second
Screen for Comic Engagement
Table of Contents
13
What's Trending Delivers an Online
Comedy Festival for Charity
@DiGiornoPizza "Newsjacks"
14
The Sound of Music
Power of
Laughter from
Comedy Central
15














in the Age of Viral Humor
How to Win with Wit
Come Prepared to Play
Find a Breakthrough Strategic Approach for Humor
Understand The Potential
S
trong em
otional
connection w
ith
the target
Powerful tie
to pop culture
Seen as a
trend-setter and
a conversation
leader
A
d
m
ire
d
fo
r
c
o
u
ra
g
e

Courage and
condence
A brand must be willing
to face the risk involved in
order to take advantage of
the great opportunity.
Strong brand
sense of self
When a brand has a clear
understanding what it is all
about, it is able to properly
align its voice to the right
notes of humor.
Acute understanding
of the target
Since humor varies by
audience segment, the
brand must possess a
deep understanding of the
target's sense of funny.
Clear ethical
guideposts
Strong ethical guidelines
are what keeps the brand
on the rails.
Talent with the skill
to make clear, smart
real-time decisions
Humor lives in the moment
and funny reactions to
events require those whose
judgment is quick and
trusted.
Access to
professional
funny people
Nothing is worse than
a lame joke. Humor must
be professionally
executed.
Real-time content
creation capability
In today's fast-paced social
world, real-time content is
what carries the joke.
Ability to pick up the
pieces when things
go wrong
What happens when things
go wrong? There needs to be
some contingency planning.
Does the brand have the
fortitude to resolve discontent
and move on.
F
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of Social Media, Weber Shandwick. She served as EVP,
Digital Strategy and Social Media for Porter Novelli
before that.
Our Experts in Viral Humor
Stephanie Agresta is MSLGROUP's Global Director of
Social Media and Digital and has been recognized as
both a thought leader and hands on counselor in social
and digital media for 15 years. In the course of her career,
Agresta has been instrumental in developing digital and
social media initiatives for major brands such as Samsung,
Unilever, PepsiCo, Microsoft, HP and P&G. Prior to joining
MSLGROUP, Stephanie was the EVP, Managing Director
StEphanIethinKS
If you can make people laugh, you can
get them to engage and buy. Viral humor
requires a deep knowledge of the target,
a smart understanding of how they are
plugged into pop culture and their sense
of humor, along with a feel for real-time
cadence and a good dose of courage. The
reward is a powerful emotional connection
with the audience.
A key metric to measuring success in online video is
to look at video shares. How successful your brand is
in incentivizing the audience to share videos with their
own social network is the metric by which you were
able to naturally create brand advocacytrue earned
social media. Comedy content is among the easiest
way to do this. Comedy engages emotions quickly
in an attention-starved online economy and crosses
language barriers. But, of course, rst it has to be
good. Good branded comedy content has to have an
authentic and unique voice, where the brand is part
of the story, not the sole focal point. And the content
cannot pull punches which can be difcult for some
brand marketing organizations to navigate.
4
| Winning with Wit |
Stephanie Agresta
Global Director of Social
Media and Digital, MSLGROUP
Damon Berger is the CEO of What's Trending,
a primetime Emmy-nominated daily, live center
of the online video universe, bringing audiences
the hottest videos and personalities every
day. With major brand partners that include
Samsung, Radio Shack, Virgin Mobile, AT&T, and
distribution via YouTube, Virgin America, USA
Today, and many others, What's Trending is an
exploding new media brand.
Damon Berger
CEO, What's Trending
DaMonsaYS



BrIanpOintsoUt
The potential for executing comedy extends far beyond
a funny slogan, goofy character, or well-timed tweet.
Technology has exploded the number of touch points
between message senders and receivers. Comedy is
not relegated to catchphrases or billboard copy; it can
rear its head in email newsletters, website footers, error
pages, YouTube annotations, Facebook comments, fake
Yelp pages, and the list goes on. Hell, comedy today can
be executed using the computer code itself, not just the
copy and design. The deeper you dig into any humor-
based idea, the more appreciation you can garner from
anybody who discovers it.
Brian Janosch is Creative Director and resident
Midwesterner at Cultivated Wit, a creative agency that
combines comedy, technology, design, and whiskey. He
has held several titles in media and comedy including
writing, editing, project managing, product developing and
web strategizing. Janosch is presently a writer at large for
The Onion, where he previously worked for ve years as
deputy managing editor.
QuInneXplaiNshiSin-Your-FaceStyle
According to Ad Week's Andrew McMains, under
Quinn Kilbury's leadership, Newcastle Brown
Ale has adopted an in-your-face, no-apologies
marketing approach, including a spoof Super Bowl
commercial that never aired with Anna Kendrick.
Kendrick's spoofpart of a two-week, all-digital
marketing push around the Super Bowl dubbed
If We Made Itappeared ve days before the
game and obtained 5.2 million views.
We're not competing with Anheuser-Buschwe're
competing with Justin Bieber and cute kittens,
Kilbury told AdWeek. He explained that he believes
effective marketing takes more than just being
funny. It has got to be interesting and compelling,
like you have to click on this versus clicking on the
cute kitten, he said. Read the AdWeek story on
Kilbury here.
Brian Janosch
Creative Director, Cultivated Wit
Quinn Kilbury is the Brand Director on
Newcastle Brown Ale at Heineken USA.
Kilbury feels fortunate to be able to turn his
love of beer into a profession, having segued
over to Heineken in August 2013 from PepsiCo,
where he had spent three years, most recently as
Senior Brand Manager. Prior to that, Kilbury held
leadership roles at General Mills. He spent his
early career days working on the agency side.
Quinn Kilbury
Brand Director, Newcastle Brown Ale
| Winning with Wit | 5

Our Experts in Viral Humor
JoNahsaYS
The best way a brand can get involved in comedy
content online is through thematic alignment vs
branded entertainment. At Fullscreen, we have seen
some fantastic case studies with our top comedy and
entertainment channel, The Fine Brothers, and their
hit format React which has garnered over a billion
views for the series. The Fines have mastered the
art of thematic alignment with their brand partners
by keeping the focus on their editorial and comedic
voice while allowing the brand to be a hero through
association of the storyline which ties into their
marketing objectives in a fun and engaging way.
Jonah Minton is SVP of Sales and Brand Strategy at Fullscreen, a
global youth media company representing the most inuential content
creators in social media. Previously, Jonah was Vice President of Sales
at Ustream, the leading live streaming interactive video platform, where
he oversaw the national sales team. Prior to Ustream, Jonah worked
at MySpace Video, where he developed original programming and
branded entertainment for Fortune 500 clients. Jonah received his B.A.
in English literature at the University of California, Berkeley and his
Masters in Music from the University of Southern California. In his spare
time, Jonah enjoys hanging out with his beautiful wife Jocelyn, taking
walks with his dog Sadie, playing saxophone, composing music and
listening to Blue Note albums from the 1960s.
Jonah Minton
SVP, Sales, Fullscreen
| Winning with Wit |
6





Our Experts in Viral Humor
Jaco Peeringa is responsible for brand PR &
Corporate Communications of all Comedy Central
Channels in North Europe and other VIMN
entertainment channels (VIVA, Blink!). Based in
Amsterdam, Jaco has been in his position since
early 2012. He previously was manager of PR
and sponsorships for UPC, the second largest
cable operator in The Netherlands. Jaco has also
held positions as the Manager of Marketing and
Communications for AVRO (Algemene Vereniging
Radio Omroep or "General Association of Radio
Broadcasting"), a Dutch public broadcasting
association operating within the framework of
the Nederlandse Publieke Omroep system. He
has also held different Sales, Marketing and
Communications roles within SBS broadcasting
(now 33 % owned by John de Mols Talpa and 66
% by Sanoma Media). Early in his career, he was
production editor of Brutale Meiden (Cheeky
Girls), the top show in The Netherlands among
youth and kids, 13-24.
Jaco Peeringa
Director, Public Relations &
Communications Comedy &
Entertainment Viacom International
Media Networks Northern Europe
AcCordiNgtoJaCo
Humor is serious business. Comedy Central is the
favorite comedy brand for young adults because
we are always relevant, slightly absurd, easy
accessible, brutally honest, worth sharing and
always available wherever they want a
good laugh.
We do a lot of research on our consumers and
with studies like the Power of Laughter and
InuenCCe me.
Our Power of Laughter study is a multi-layer and
multi-district investigation into how benecial
laughter can be. The survey shows how much
more involved the audience gets when subjected
to fun and humorous content. We conrm the
theory that laughter really is the best medicine
for the mind, body and soul, and that humor
increases commitment in a positive way.
In our latest multi-country study, InuenCCe
me, our research department took a closer look
at consumers word-of-mouth potential and
revealed major differences in the inuencing
power of TV channel audiences. Across all
countries, the Comedy Central audience provides
the biggest share of inuential innovators
consumers that show a high social inuence
on others and adopt brands and services at a
very early stage. The multi-country study was
conducted online in Germany, Netherlands,
Poland and Sweden with 4,000 respondents
aged 16-49, and was enriched with a qualitative
deep-dive via an online community.
| Winning with Wit | 7
How Branded Humor Works



What makes the secrets to branded humor so elusive
is that there is no single solution and hardly any firm
rules. But weve probed our expert panelists for their
thoughts, favorite examples and asked them to break
it down how does branded humor work? We looked
at some of the best examples and drew some insights.
Branded humor certainly comes with its share of fear:
fear of a joke that will fall flat, an unforeseen insult or
anger among a critical constituency.
Thats why the first step toward comedy requires
mustering the courage to try it. Thats no easy task for
many brands. Comedy comes with a willingness to
lose a bit of control.
It also needs to sync with deep knowledge of the
target. Humor changes from generation to generation.
To make it work, a marketer needs to fully understand
the underlying funny bone of who they are trying to
reach. Whats more, much of humor plays off the
real-time cadence in the world of the target; the
brand needs to live in the space and understand the
dynamics, the subtleties and subtext.
Like other contemporary communications campaigns,
most of the humor campaigns we looked at ran across
disciplines, channels and screens. The jokes didnt
necessarily exist in one place. Instead they became
an ongoing gag that surrounded the target making
memorable connections points throughout his or
her day.
Humor is an emotional connection and, when properly
developed, the bond between the comedy and the
target is often stronger than other communications. In
many cases, the humor itself steps out in front of the
brand, pulling it along into a strong relationship with
the consumer.
Across these best examples, the humor took on
a variety of forms, generally customized to meet
the brand needs. Children were sometimes used
to provide a transparent view of an unacceptable
alternate reality. Second screens were used. Pranks
were played. Events were famously newsjacked and
parodied in social media. Of course, epic mistakes
have been made as well.
What does ring through is that in nearly all cases, the
viral humor campaigns drove outstanding results.
We asked our experts for some their favorite
humor campaigns.
| Winning with Wit |
8




President Obama on
Between Two Ferns.
PresidentObamaMusterstheCourage
toCreateaComedicConnection
President Obamas interview segment on the
Between Two Ferns web series from Funny or Die
was certainly the most high-profile marketing-oriented
comedy segment produced in 2014. The interview was
conducted in March by Zach Galifianakis best known
from The Hangover films. The episode promoted the
government website, healthcare.gov, to millennials.
The marketing need was to drive young healthy people
to sign up with the insurance exchanges and make the
exchanges financially viable. Against a backdrop of the
failing website, the White House made an out-of-the-
box and unexpected choice -- comedic influencer Zach
Galifianakis to help it abruptly stem the tide in public
criticism and millennial inaction.
This was a pretty monumental video for a couple
reasons, Brian Janosh, the Creative Director of
Cultivated Wit said. 1.) The President chose to do an
internet video over something similar on TV, which
tells you something. 2.) They chose to do something
rooted in comedy, rather than something sincere. 3.)
The video is funny first. They realized the value in
putting the comedy part over the branded part, which
ultimately made the whole effort more endearing,
watchable, and memorable.
But the effort required a bold conviction that building
a comedic connection was the best connection, not to
mention a large dose of both courage and rehearsal
time on the part of President Obama.
But, the results underscore the smart strategy.
The spot reached about a quarter of the young
Americans that the White House was targeting.
Literally overnight FunnyorDie.com became the
leading source of referrals to healthcare.gov. And,
the healthcare.gov website saw a 40% increase in
traffic the day after the event.
Not only did the effort have an immediate impact
on the business at hand, but the viral humor video
softened Mr. Obamas image with a public
losing patience.
| Winning with Wit | 9






WestJet Christmas Miracle:
Real-Time Giving
WestJetCreatesanEmotionalBrand
ExperiencethatMakesYouLaugh
In December 2013, WestJet created Christmas
Miracle: Real-time Giving. The Canadian airline
brand later described how it aspired to spread the
joy of the season by activating something remarkable,
sentimental, and interactive for its guests and
employees. The airline delighted unsuspecting
travelers with a real-time holiday surprise that
delivered personalized gifts to guests arriving in
Calgary as part of a true Christmas Miracle, it
explained in a Shorty Award entry. The result was a
viral ad that captivated the Canadian public and others
around the world and rode the crest of its popularity to
rank among the top five global viral ads in 2013.
According to Quinn Kilbury, the ad projects a
combination of emotion and humor in a completely
brand-appropriate tone. I had never heard of
WestJet and now would love to fly them. So human,
said Kilbury.
The ad increased WestJets sales by 86% compared
to the same period last year, despite no media
dollars spent.
Based around a parody of the Grinch Who Stole
Christmas, this story delivered exactly the opposite
result. The video was highlighted by the surprising and
delightful reaction of children, elderly passengers and
others to the digital Santa calling out their name along
with the slapstick rush of employees shopping for the
presents. The story culminated in the reaction of the
passengers seeing the stream of presents coming
down the conveyer belt only to realize the gifts
were for them.
To Kilburys point, throughout the story, elements
were meticulously branded from a Santa dressed in
blue to packages carefully wrapped in the
brands colors.
| Winning with Wit |
10

Kids React to Old


Computers
KidsProvideaFunnyPrisminto
anAlternateReality
The pure transparency in the reaction of children
works especially well as a comedic technique.
Jonah Minton, SVP Sales, Fullscreen, points to The
Fine Brothers Kids React to Old Computers which
spotlights the pure reaction of children forced to step
out of their element. In this case, the tech-savvy kids
are asked to step back three decades and test the old
Apple II computers with their green-on-black screens,
floppy discs, oversized casing and multiple switches.
The video promoted AMCs TV series, Halt and Catch
Fire, about an insiders view of the personal computer
revolution set in 1983.
In what is a time travelogue at its core, the video uses
the childrens shocking reactions to a different reality
to underscore how much has changed in computing
over the course of thirty years.
Minton points to the results for the promotional
marketing strategy. AMC sponsored the video a few
days before the launch of their show and it quickly
became a viral video out of the gate with some of
the highest levels of engagement we have seen for a
brand alignment, including 110k Likes, 33k comments
and 23k+ shares, Minton said. The video received over
13 million organic views.
| Winning with Wit | 11

Comedy Central's #CC24 -


The 24 Hour Marathon
ComedyCentralOffersASecond
ScreenforComicEngagement
TV network Comedy Central, home of shows such as
South Park and The Daily Show, asked MSLGROUP to
come up with a smart, inexpensive way of announcing
the premiere of the channels new 24/7 local
broadcasting in Sweden. They also wanted to connect
their brand further with comedy, creativity and fun.
And what better way to demonstrate that you now can
tune in to Comedy Central for a laugh anytime you
want, than to actually have someone watch it for 24
straight hours? So, MSLGROUP invited two favorite
Swedish comedians to watch Comedy Central non-
stop from noon to noon, while being broadcast live on
the web. Based on the new way of watching traditional
TV with the integrated experience of a second screen,
the comedians commented on the shows together
with the viewers and engaged with them through
social media and the live broadcast. All unrestricted,
unscripted and improvised.
The budget was minimal, with no funds to buy
advertising, and instead of renting a studio the team
built a makeshift one themselves in a standard
conference room down the hall at its office. The
event included a number of crazy challenges for the
comedians, a number of surprise guests to keep them
awake, a few cases of energy drinks as life-support,
and the fun began.
There were only two rules: no sleeping and no leaving
the room. Other than that, the comedians were given
full liberty to do, say and come up with anything they
wanted. And during 24 hours, we learned that really
anything can happen.
The results: Comedy Central had its best month ever
in the main target group of 18-34 year olds with a 118%
increase in viewer ratings. Visitations to the Comedy
Central website increased by over 500%. The hashtag
#CC24 was the top trending hashtag in Twitter in
Sweden during 3 of the 24 hours.
| Winning with Wit |
12




2nd Annual Tubeathon Returns
12/12 As YouTube's
Modern Day Telethon
WhatsTrendingDeliversanOnline
ComedyFestivalforCharity
Whats Trending created a holiday charity Tube-a-Thon
two years ago with the worlds biggest YouTube stars
performing a mix of comedy and music, essentially
the online version of what happens when a holiday
comedy special meets a charity telethon. In 2012, the
event was sponsored by Virgin Mobile and in 2013 by
the Ford Fiesta movement.
The event was a livestreamed holiday party featuring
the biggest YouTube stars and Hollywood celebrities.
In 2012, according to the Huffington Post, the
show included the Epic Meal Time gang uniting
with Doug Benson to build a gingerbread house, a
holiday medley from Pentatonix, eggnog making
with DailyGrace and Hannah Hart, the magic of Justin
Willman and a hilarious Shaytards gift exchange. The
show itself was the #3 Twitter trend in the U.S., and
raised thousands of dollars for Covenant House.
During the annual two-hour holiday themed
livestream in December 2013, millennial audiences
were engaged to share branded social media,
Ford donated $1 for every tweet with the hashtag
#Tubeathon or #FiestaMovement to the Covenant
House (a charity dedicated to fighting youth
homelessness). The event was a smash hit,
generating over 167 million social impressions.
In exchange for making the donations, the brand was
positioned as the charity hero, and was fully integrated
into promotional content. The brand hashtag enabled
branded engagement with the millennial target
audience, allowing them a means to participate
themselves by donating to a relevant cause.
| Winning with Wit | 13

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VIMNINSIGHTS.VIACOM.COM







































@DiGiornoPizzaNewsjacks
TheSoundofMusic
@DiGiornoPizza made its splash into the Twitter
sphere of comedy in 2014 by live tweeting the much
heralded live television event The Sound of Music
with Carrie Underwood. Each of the tweets famously
spun one of the iconic musicals moments with a pizza
theme. The event helped make the DiGiorno Pizza
branded Twitter feed one of the most hilarious in
the world.
Dough, Ray, Me = Pizza party with me and a guy
named Ray. #TheSoundOfMusicLive
THE KITCHEN IS ALIVE, WITH THE SMELL OF
FRESH-BAKED PIZZA #TheSoundOfMusicLive
Hey guys, next time youre scared of a storm make
a few pizzas instead of waking up the whole house
yodeling #TheSoundOfMusicLive
SO LONG, FAREWELL, THE PIZZAS GONE
NO REASON TO BE HERE ANYMORE
#TheSoundOfMusicLive
14
| Winning with Wit |
Zach Basner, the founder of Wild Boy, overviewed the
success of the campaign: Large captive audience?
Check. Controversial topic? Check. Add in a little
humor and youve gone viral.
Of course, theres a dangerous edge to the strategy
and @DiGiorno has fallen prey. On September 8,
the DiGiorno twitter feed accidentally newsjacked
the hashtag #WhyIStayed which was being used
by womens groups to explain why they stayed in
relationships with domestic violence in the aftermath
of the Ray Rice/NFL domestic violence incident.
The brand tweeted You had pizza to the trending
hashtag #WhyIStayed, sparking outrage from the
women telling their stories. It was an epic Twitter fail;
the brand apologized individually on Twitter to those
it offended, admitting it neglected to read what the
hashtag was all about.
As more brands move into the humor space, the
lessons from DiGiorno and others that accidentally
mis-step are an important part of the collective
learning that must be considered.
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m
ore likely to
describe their
sex life as good/
just right
+
2
8
%

m
ore Facebook
friends than
light laughers
H
igh
engagem
ent
Funny
content
P
O
S
IT
IV
E
P
O
W
E
R
O
F
L
A
U
G
H
T
E
R

Positively-
A
dvertising
m
inded
consum
ers
receptivity
P
O
W
E
R

O
F

L
A
U
G
H
T
E
R

Occasional
H
eavy
laugher
C
O
M
E
D
Y
C
E
N
T
R
A
L
laugher
V
IE
W
E
R
S
A
R
E
M
O
R
E
W
atch Com
edy Central
L
IK
E
L
Y
T
O
B
E
H
E
A
V
Y

39%
61%
H
E
A
V
Y
L
A
U
G
H
T
E
R
L
E
A
D
S
L
A
U
G
H
E
R
S

T
O
H
A
P
P
IE
R
, H
E
A
L
T
H
IE
R
,
2
8
%

Do not w
52%
atch Com
edy Central
48%
M
O
R
E
S
E
X
-F
IL
L
E
D

m
ore likely to
L
IV
E
S
.
6
3
%

exercise
A
verage
45%
describe
Physical benefits
their weight
55%
as target
weight.
3
7
%
5
1
%

say watching a
H
E
A
V
Y
L
A
U
G
H
E
R
S

4
3
%
m
ore likely to
funny TV
show
5
6
%
E
m
otional benefits
have a positive
im
proves their
Laughing doesnt seem
to be
outlook on
m
ood
related to the econom
ic or political
life.
situation.
5
8
%
6
1
%

7
2
%
6
8
%

are excited
about their
are satisfied
w
ith their job
future
VIMNINSIGHTS.VIACOM.COM
+
2
8
%
m
ore Facebook
+
3
2
%

friends than
m
ore likely to
describe their
light laughers
Social benefits
sex life as good/
just right
D
E
S
I
G
N

B
Y

M
S
L
G
R
O
U
P

C
R
E
A
T
I
V
E
+

For more information, please contact


Stephanie Agresta
Global Director, Social Media and Digital
stephanie.agresta@mslgroup.com