From the forthcoming book, Mass Behaving: Unlocking the Secrets of Shifting Behaviors with Archetypes. Learn more here.
The Jester archetype is one found quite frequently in the advertising and marketing space. It seems agencies and marketers can't resist humor, and for good reason: Humor is fun! And so is this archetype which seeks to foster belonging through laughter and humor. Dig in to learn more!
The Jester archetype dances to the rhythm of humor, wit, and levity. Their motivations are anchored in the desire to bring joy, laughter, and a dash of irreverence into the lives of others. They thrive on the sheer delight of making people chuckle, but beneath the jest, they harbor a deeper motivation: to challenge conventions, poke fun at the status quo, and remind us all that life's tribulations are bearable with a good laugh. The Jester seeks to dispel the clouds of seriousness with the sunshine of mirth.
Charlie Chaplin: The legendary comedian and actor Charlie Chaplin serves as a quintessential embodiment of the Jester archetype. His motivation was to use the art of silent comedy to reflect society's foibles and inequalities, all while delivering uproarious laughter.
Lucille Ball: Lucille Ball, with her iconic portrayal of Lucy Ricardo in "I Love Lucy," exemplified the Jester archetype. Her motivation was to showcase the humor in everyday mishaps and absurdities, uniting viewers in laughter.
Deadpool: The brazenly loud-mouthed superhero from the Marvel universe stands fiercely alone as a Jester brand. Deadpool, played by Ryan Reynolds, is the superhero we never knew we needed. Through often crass jokes and turns of phrase, he lightens the mood and brings us closer together. Be warned, he’s NSFW.
The Jester archetype may be the biggest trap for a lot of brands. Humor is such a prevailing tactic in advertising that many brands latch onto it as a device to get attention. However, Jester brands are built from the inside out with belonging in their hearts, not just cheap laughs to sell products and services. Despite natural alignments with the entertainment industry, true Jester brands can shift brands in stagnant industries into category leaders. Here are a few examples:
Skittles: These little chewy morsels of fruity flavor bursts have been built on humor and absurdity. From their advertising throughout their social media communications, and everywhere in between, Skittles leverages the power of laughter to draw people closer together and foster a sense of belonging.
Old Spice: Your “grandpa’s” cologne was resurrected from obsolescence with humor as the driver. Old Spice found a path back to relevance with hysterically funny, ridiculous ads and marketing that positioned the brand for young teen males. Rather than seriousness, ridiculousness paved the way with memorable advertising featuring The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, played by Isaiah Mustafa.
Loudmouth: If there was one golfer in the 20th and 21st century that everyone remembers, it’s John Daly. He defied all “rules” of the game, not to mention personal health and fitness, with a healthy dose of humor. His humor and demeanor translated into a golf lifestyle brand aptly named Loudmouth.
Joyful Atmosphere: Jesters bring an infectious sense of joy wherever they go. Their humor is like a spark that ignites smiles and laughter, uplifting spirits even in the gloomiest of moments.
Creativity Unleashed: They possess a flair for creative thinking. Jesters have an uncanny knack for finding humor in the ordinary and the absurd, often revealing unique perspectives that others may have missed.
Social Glue: Jesters are adept at fostering camaraderie and connection. Their ability to make people laugh creates bonds and eases social interactions, making them cherished members of any group.
Stress Relief: They offer a natural remedy for stress and tension. In times of strife, Jesters provide the much-needed break from seriousness, allowing people to momentarily escape their worries.
Perspective Alteration: Jesters use humor to challenge the norms and make us see the world from different angles. Their jokes often carry subtle messages or critiques, encouraging reflection and change.
Avoidance of Seriousness: The Jester's inclination towards humor can sometimes lead to avoiding serious issues or using humor as a defense mechanism. This can hinder meaningful discussions or addressing important matters.
Superficiality: In their pursuit of laughter, Jesters may superficially engage with emotions, avoiding deeper, more profound connections with others. This can leave them feeling isolated or disconnected.
Misjudgment: The line between humor and offense can be razor-thin, and Jesters may occasionally misjudge boundaries or inadvertently hurt others with their jokes.
Responsibility Evasion: Sometimes, Jesters might evade responsibilities or commitments in favor of the escapism that humor offers, potentially neglecting important aspects of life.
Emotional Turmoil: Behind the laughter, Jesters may hide their own emotional turmoil or vulnerabilities, struggling with inner conflicts that they mask with humor.
In summary, the Jester archetype is a purveyor of mirth and laughter. Their strengths include spreading joy, stimulating creativity, and forging connections, but they must also contend with potential Challenges such as avoiding seriousness, misjudging boundaries, and grappling with their own emotional complexities. Jesters remind us of the profound power of humor to heal, unite, and brighten even the darkest of days.