Is humour the best way to communicate a political message?

Two videos went viral this week from two national leaders in Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu

First Obama took to Buzzfeed to promote the deadline for people to sign up to his healthcare plan

Then we have Likud’s recent funny election ads with Netanyahu as a baby sitter

What do you make of them? Would a funny ad sway your vote?

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  • tmitch57

    The Obama ad was so-so, but the Netanyahu ad was hilarious–and I’m certainly not a Netanyahu fan. It helps if you actually know Hebrew to get the humor. There was an old pun about carpets/territories that if you don’t know Hebrew you wouldn’t get. And the whole thing about “shalom” at the end was a pun on the Likud’s hardline stance, shalom being both a greeting and peace in Hebrew.

    I think the humor works best with non-committed and low-interest voters. There is a fairly large floating vote in Israel that votes for a different centrist party every election and Netanyahu obviously wants to shrink that vote by making the election an either/or dual choice, much as the Shinners and DUP do in NI. If I were an Israeli voter I certainly wouldn’t vote for Bibi because of this ad, but if I were undecided and didn’t pay much attention to politics it could do the trick.

  • Turgon

    I largely agree with John Mooney (we have previously been described as Statler and Waldorf)

    However, in an age of youtube and the ease of making adverts it is reasonable to make lots of ads trying to appeal to all sorts of different people and in all sorts of different styles.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    If humour works it shows self-confidence and self-awareness – good for the image of any politician. But generally, you’re better off letting your supporters, or indeed apolitical satirists, do the work for you. Much more powerful and likely to be funny if done without being overtly political or too obviously seeking to persuade people. The News Quiz takes apart the incompetence and ideological fervour of the Coalition better than any Labour campaign ad could.

    The Obama ad works better for me here because it’s self-deprecating; the Netanyahu one seems a reasonably memorable campaign ad, gets his point across but it’s not actually especially funny as such. But we’re comparing apples and pears here as the Obama ad is effectively a public information ad, not a campaign ad. Obama has a great self-mocking, dry wit and the ad uses that well – but its job is to get a date into people’s heads; it’s not selling Obama directly, but a government service. Different set of rules – and more potential for using humour I think than in a PPB.

  • terence patrick hewett

    All the comedians want to be politicians: and all the politicians want to be comedians.

  • tmitch57

    The difference is also that the one you found funny was in your native language and the one you didn’t find so funny was in a foreign language that you don’t know and so were relying on the translation,

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I tried to allow for that. I still think the Netanyahu one was a bit smug. Him appearing at the door had a hint of ‘look at me turning up in your ordinary household, this is your lucky day’. The fact I don’t like him personally probably doesn’t help.