Here’s a study that telegraphs its conclusion right up front with the title, “Is Funny Enough?”

And the good news for Buffalo Wild Wings is exactly two of their ads made the Top Ten of a list that starts with Bridgestone Tires and ends with WalMart—the only restaurant one the list, and one of few companies to make it on there twice.

Here’s one of the BWW ads:


(The guy in that YouTube post thought it was funny, didn’t he?)

In this article, a know-it-all pollster dude smarmily states opinions as if they were facts while also stating the obvious as if it were a trade secret. His name is Jonathan Symonds, EVP of marketing at Ace Metrix, and I can tell already we’re not going to get along.

Symonds says it is possible to create an ad that is both funny and effective by doing two things: imparting information to the consumer such as the usefulness of a product and how it will benefit the consumer, whilst simultaneously integrating humorous elements.”

First: yes. Restaurant (and all) communications are prepared and paid for by the client expressly to influence the consumer and persuade them to come on in. Second: boy, you do make it sound easy.

Look, I like a lot of BWW commercials, though I think these are a little forced and fall into a sort of generic beer/sports humor that people enjoy yet doesn’t really distinguish BWW from all the other similar ads. So I guess, yes, Mr. Symonds, failing to distinguish your product would be considered bad by most of us.

But let’s be a little more nuanced: imparting information is the job of pamphlets and lawyers. We’re here to persuade people to come to our restaurant. Maybe the usefulness of the restaurant is the topic, maybe not. I think the goal of the best restaurant communications is more about differentiation, relevance, and a sort of tribalism that lets viewers feel like “this is the kind of place a person like me would go to.”

It’s not as easy as just whether or not it’s funny.


So let’s not condemn funny.

God (and the average TV viewer) knows it’s realllllly hard to get humor right. Humor’s like fire. Fire burn.

But I do believe getting people to chuckle like the guy in the YouTube video up there is a pretty good way to buy a little attention. That guy felt like he was a part of the BWW tribe. Maybe the commercial didn’t motivate him to rise from his couch and, still clutching the remote and the video camera, arrive at BWW mesmerized by the usefulness of the restaurant and how it will benefit him. But I think he probably has BWW on his list of places he’d suggest next time he was suggesting places.

I think that’s a realistic goal, if you’re not actually advertising a limited time offer. The more I think about it, the more I think “Hey, guys, wanna go to Buffalo Wild Wings?” is actually a terrific goal.

So to answer the question: no. Funny is not enough.

Neither is your dumb study.

Side note to author of the Restaurant Management article: I think we stopped using the word “whilst” awhile ago. I think maybe Emerson or Thoreau was the last one we allowed to use that word.

Sorry. Un-nuanced declarations about what works in marketing make me cranky.