Funny Business PR | Why Don’t Companies Use Cartoons in Their Marketing?


After writing about Google’s Chrome comic book, I asked Brad Shorr, who frequently writes about business humor and is a business cartoon writer to guest post and talk about  . . .

Why Don’t Companies Use Cartoons in Their Marketing?

By Brad Shorr, guest author

As a business cartoon writer, this question crosses my mind more often than I’d like to admit. Naturally, I think cartoons are a superb way for a company to market itself, strengthen its brand, build customer loyalty, drive home its message, and draw serious attention to its print advertisements, Web pages, newsletters, blogs, and intranet pages. Custom cartoons are inexpensive as marketing expenses go, and quite a bit of fun to develop.

So again, why aren’t companies jumping on the cartoon bandwagon? (BTW, I’m not talking about my cartoons specifically, mind you. Cartoons in general are not commonly used in B2B or B2C, regardless of the sector.)

  1. Grim determination. Business is serious business. Whether a company is manufacturing space shuttle components or yo-yos, management takes things like sales and marketing rather seriously. Managers are seldom in a frame of mind to think funny.
  2. Not thinking like the customer. Customers don’t take your products and services as seriously as you do. Customers have their own problems. One thing you can give them is relief from the daily grind. That’s why YouTube gets more hits in an hour than any super serious corporate Web site gets in a month.
  3. Risk aversion. Companies don’t like taking chances. They don’t like trying something unless everybody else is doing it. A lot of companies talk about wanting to be different, to be groundbreaking, to be trendsetters. Mostly that’s malarkey. They only want to be different as long as it’s safe, which is hardly ever.
  4. Trivialization. Companies feel funny spending their hard earned cash on something silly like a series of cartoons. Management might think cartooning will trivialize their business.

Now, depending on the situation, some or all of these concerns might have some validity. Certainly, any communication strategy has to reflect the values and aims of the company putting out the message. But if increasing brand awareness and customer loyalty are part of the equation, cartoons and other forms of humor ought to be considered. GEICO didn’t get to be number one because its policy riders were well written.

Image credit: © Word Sell, Inc. via flickr

What do you think? Have you ever considered using cartoons in your clients’ marketing or your own? Why or why not?


clip_image001Brad Shorr lives in the Chicago area and is president of Word Sell, Inc. He helps organizations strengthen their online presence with business blogs and compelling Web content.

Brad writes extensively on his own and many other blogs, mainly about writing, online marketing, entrepreneurship, sales, and business humor.

Contact Brad about business cartoons for your business or organization.

About Barbara Rozgonyi

Barbara Rozgonyi publishes and directs CoryWest Media, an integrated social media marketing and PR firm. As Social Media Club (SMC) Chicago’s founder, Barbara is a recognized spokesperson for brands, bloggers and the social media marketing PR industry. Barbara invites you to join the Wired PR Works community on Facebook or to contact her regarding interviews, partner promotions or speaking engagements at 630.207.7530.

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  • It is interesting that they don’t use more cartoons. Certainly some of the most popular TV ads are the ones that use humor. I don’t have a business, but as a consumer I’m much more apt to pay attention to a company that uses humor.

    On the other hand, I like spoofs of serious commercials, too. Have you seen the Macbook Air parody?

    Jean Browman–Cheerful Monk’s last blog post..Touching Hearts and Changing Lives

  • Hi Brad – I’m not great at drawing, but I’ve used humorous letters a lot. I guess they probably offended the odd few people but they were the folk I didn’t want as customers anyway. Like you say, you’ve got to stand out from your competitors.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..The Pirates Of The Internet

  • I think the biggest reason is that they don’t know HOW to.

    When almost all magazines used cartoons, they had big cartoon groups – I think the Guild, in NY was a big one – or they probably just wrote (typed!) letters to cartoonists they spotted in the rival magazines.

    Sure you can google and find a FEW professional cartoon websites, but the business buyers are out of practice – they don’t know what going prices are, they don’t know if they can ask for a topic, they don’t know exactly where they could put it – the whole deal.

    And ADs think that since they can manipulate PS, they should be able to draw cartoons, too. Not.

  • There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also.

  • gg

    Because people needn’t know.

  • Lol it actually took me about some good 20 seconds to figure this joke out..

    funny 🙂 smart joke

  • Very nice sharing Also now people do not trust another persons that why companies give priority to cartoons
    .-= funny sms´s last blog ..Bob Marley Quotes =-.

  • ShannonParish

    Great article – I posted it on Facebook. As a cartoonist, I’m constantly amazed at how frozen people become as business owners when they try to think of how they might use a cartoon or illustration. Thinking from the customer’s view point is always best business. (that alone is THE lesson) Well written. Thanks!

  • You should really control the comments listed here

  • really funny… thanks for posting.

  • Preaching to the choir. What I need is to find the outside/inside influencers who could be sold on the idea of using a simple illustration in some internal bulletin, newsletter and email blast as well as the well place humorous illustration or cartoon in other communications…birthday wishes, acknowledgements, thank you card and reminders. The less serious and more personal side of business.

    Good article.

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