Top 10 Ways to Make Your Content Funny: #7 Social Order Deviancy

Are you hesitant to provide humorous content for fear of missing the mark? In our countdown of the top 10 ways to make your content funny, we demonstrate some proven comic techniques that are easy to apply.

social order deviancyIn fact, if you follow these 4 tested techniques for applying “social order deviancy” to your YouTube videos, you can be assured of boosting audience engagement with your content. The use of social order deviancy comes in at number 7.

4 Ways to Boost Viral Video Stats with Social Order Deviancy

Social order deviancy refers to those behaviors that challenge society rules and expectations. The fact that we laugh at these violations is explained by Relief Theory of Humor.

This theory contends that we laugh from release of tension that arises from suppressing our desires. Consequently, we love watching others unleash their innate desire to break the law, enter forbidden territory or simply act out their inhibitions.

In general, most viral videos featuring social order deviancy fall under the following four categories:

  1. Society Irreverence
  2. Forbidden Behaviors
  3. Offensive Behaviors
  4. Unleashed Mania
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Comic Devices for Social Order Deviancy

Society Irreverence

A popular technique for entertaining audiences with social order deviancy is to poke fun of pompous society folks. In the 1960’s sitcom, “The Beverly Hillbillies,” Jed Clampett and his poor backwoods family transplanted to Beverly Hills, California, after striking oil on their land.

In the series, audiences laugh hysterically as the rags to riches family unknowingly mocks the posturing of high society by retaining their hillbilly lifestyle in a luxurious Hollywood house.  Being exploited by rich bankers, the Clampetts often come out ahead with their provincial wisdom. In effect, they put high society in their place.

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High Society Satire Exemplified by the Backwoods Clampetts

In the following film clips, we see several viral YouTube videos based on high society satires, rule breaking and undermining authority. Common to all is the  release of tension we experience when we unload on someone’s suppressing statutes. Witness how this works when we outwit the censorship imposed by honorable judges, pious clergymen or smug professors.

Forbidden Behaviors

Another successful way to get laughter from social order deviancy is through the depiction of forbidden behaviors. Many of us laugh when witnessing the spoiling of sacred rituals. Who doesn’t love watching others break taboos? This likely results from sharing their pressures in having to sustain a devout life.  

A similar thrill arises when we strip off clothing, break office rules, or slap a smug antagonist.  Whether its vicariously acting out naughty behaviors or simply fighting back, we feel liberated from society rules.

Offensive Behaviors

Our third technique used in social order deviancy involves offensive behaviors. Here again, we enjoy watching others mock society. In this case, the mockery is through tactless behaviors. This could include bad manners or disgusting personal habits.

A common technique used in this type of humor is to highlight reactions to poor hygiene such as from foot odor, perspiration or flatulence. As the perfect target of our tactless behavior, this especially works well when exposing the offense to those highly sensitive to protocol or classy surroundings.

Unleashed Mania

Our final category of social order deviancy involves letting loose with craziness. One of the oldest forms of humor involves the depiction of mad scientists. In effect, we are laughing at the disorder associated with an esteemed profession.

Another technique evokes our inner craving for disorder in public places. In the viral videos below, you can attribute the humor to disruptions created from screaming and destroying property in serene surroundings.

Finally, the witnessing of women swooning over men in insane frenzies has been a highly successful humor technique over the years. In 1994, Diet Coke featured an office full of ladies running to windows at lunchtime to get a glimpse of a sexy construction worker.

Axe took this concept a step further when they featuring hoards of bikini clad jungle women closing in on their prey. In this case, the hunted was a man freshly deodorized with Axe.

Study Background

A total of 3351 high performing videos (> 50K views) were examined in this ranking of top YouTube videos. These viral videos included re-casted television commercials that were posted on YouTube as a social media video back channel. Statistics were then recorded on the number of likes, dislikes, comments and views, where an exploratory study was subsequently published with the Academy of Marketing Science and 2013 Cross-Cultural Conference.

From the final list of most viewed YouTube videos, about 3% involved some type of social order deviancy. This form of viral video engagement ranked number two, eleven and thirteen in average views, comments as % of views, and net likes as % of views, respectively.

So what do you think? Is this an effective way to go? Have you ever resorted to using social order deviancy as an entertaining content marketing theme?

Please share your thoughts in the comment box below.

42 thoughts on “Top 10 Ways to Make Your Content Funny: #7 Social Order Deviancy

  1. I believe some of these tactics are beneficial such as the: Rule breaking, exhibitionism, odor offensive, face slapping and the bleeped language. These are all looked down up on in society so it is funny to watch especially when used for TV commercials. Nobody likes watching commercials but often times we do so we do not miss our show. Doing the opposite of what societal norms leaves a long lasting impression on people.

  2. I think it would depend on the product, but the majority of times, yes, I think this is a great way to promote a product. Social order deviancy is a nice break from reality, it’s refreshing to see someone prosper when they break the rules because we all follow the rule and behave accordingly, when we wish we didn’t have to.

  3. I think using social order deviancy can be tricky but if done well, it can be extremely effective in engaging the audience. Viewers’ attention is captured when they see an obscene behavior or extremely inappropriate but done with a dab of humor. I think Doritos has done an excellent job using this technique in their commercials and have been extremely effective in engaging their audience. I remember when the Doritos commercials first came out during the Superbowl, it was the topic of conversation of everyone I knew. It was talked about at work, in social media, everywhere! Not only does it use social order deviancy but it uses it in a very dry and hysterical way that you can’t help but laugh.

  4. Social order deviancy is definitely something to consider, although I have never thought about using this type of marketing theme, it does one thing well, it gets your attention. This is definitely another way to get customers and to keep them entertained. Going against the social norms to bring attention to a brand is an eye catcher because it is something most of us want to do but are afraid to, so to watch someone else go against the norm can be satisfying. Using this type of marketing ploy would definitely depend on the audience being targeted, so I would definitely proceed with caution.

  5. I think using Social Order Deviancy is a great method of marketing. People get to watch something that they more then likely don’t get to experience because of society norms. Its a great way for viewers to remember that humorous moment while keeping your product, brand or service in mind. I loved the Red Bull commercial where the kid tricks the priest into giving him leads of easy girls in their community.

  6. There are some categories of Order Deviancy that does not attract my attention. However, for the most party, I think that most of the categories are an effective way of marketing. My top two categories of Order Deviancy would be “high society satires” and “exercising professional liberties”.

  7. Commercials containing social order deviancy can be very effective at providing an audience with humor and entertainment. When audiences watch out of the norm behavior they tend to be intrigued and are amused at the pure indecency, craziness, or extreme emotion that is being displayed. Humor comes in many forms and I definitely think that these types of commercials encompass a lot of what people deem to be funny these days. Some may find these commercials to be offensive and some do cross the line. However, despite those who are sensitive, this type of humor can be very effective.

  8. I absolutely agree that taboo’s and society satires attract people’s attention. Indeed, it is subject that they usually do not talk about, or will make fun of and it will definitely catch their attention. I believe that the more off guard people are caught while watching and ad, and the most attention marketers will get out of them. Indeed, when we are not expecting something, it is always surprising, and it comes of the general noise of advertising.

    Martin Tavernier,

  9. Unleashed mania is a good sticking point when wanting to sell a product. Forbidden behaviors are an example of showing methods that are forbidden and no matter how hard you try, it is not viewed as appropriate. Many colognes and fragrances have used this ad for years and have found moderate success. In terms of marketing using social order deviancy helps to show despite not being wanted in society, it uses this pitch to sell a product to a potential consumer.

  10. I think social order deviancy marketing is a very good technique. Probably some of the most well-known products use this type of marketing to sell their stuff. Take for example the all-to-popular Doritos commercials, which are taking very taboo behaviors and making good marketing campaigns for the public. They are using this technique and because it’s something that one would never expect, they are instantly drawn to the product.

  11. I did not particularly care for this category as I am not typically entertained by offensive behaviors and unleashed mania. I do, however, think this is an effective marketing technique because many people secretly enjoy watching others deviate from the social order. These commercials are harmless, but they are humorous to those who relish in theatrical disorder and chaos. This is not my preference of marketing techniques, so I have not used it before. I might use it if the type of scenario is appropriate for a future targeted audience.

  12. Deviancy of social order is very effective way of marketing. It allows humor to be utilized, which really helps to convey a message. Satire is also good to. I really liked the T mobile wedding commercial, as it really allows humor and deviancy to market its product.

  13. Social order deviancy can be effective if used in the correct way and it actually appeals to the target market. I feel as though with this form of marketing, it is harder to even determine who they are trying to appeal to. While the commercials are entertaining, I don’t believe that they are the most effective .

  14. Although I have never used social order deviancy, I think it’s a very effective method. It shows what you are trying to say but in a different manner. It grabs the audience attention and makes you want to buy the product. I am going to find myself using this method more and more down the road.

  15. Hi everyone!
    I found all these videos very entertaining and well put together. I do believe that this was an effective way to go as it they are funny and witty. My favorite one was the Royal Wedding T-mobile and the Hot sauce High society satire. I love the way that they altered their perspective of high society. I thought it was very creative and humorous. I have not used social order deviancy but I would use it if I had to market a product. I think its a fun way to introduce products to the public.

  16. I truly enjoyed watching these examples of social order deviancy; I believe that this technique is an effective marketing technique because it displays humor as well as a sense of connection. Since we are in an era that is surrounded by a wide scope of religions, cultures, and trends it is a technique that can make an effective connection amongst various audiences. However, I will state that not every brand/company should readily rely on this technique because it might be offensive to some audiences. For example, if there is a new brand/company/product that is entering the market and the marketing manager decides to choose this technique as a marketing method the brand/company/product may fail to succeed because some audiences might view the commercial as “bias” or “offensive.” It would be safer to take another approach that involves humor. On the contrary, if a company like Nike or Pepsi chooses this type of technique to market their products they can get away from such hard critics because of the reputation that they have already established. Lastly, I have not resorted to this type of marketing technique and I mostly wouldn’t because of the fine line between humor and offense.

  17. While Social Order Deviancy is eye catching and often funny, I believe a form of marketing that does not provide consumers with the enough information and reasoning to buy the product or service. Yes commercials can be entertaining, however can we find a medium where we can bring both worlds together??

  18. I think social order deviancy is a great marketing technique. It is always interesting to see people break out of their shell or do something out of the norm. It is entertaining and often funny to see people do something outside of their expected character. It is definitely memorable.

  19. Also, the forbidden behaviors category of “face slapping” is a frequent and easy way to bring the message of a commercial across, however, I think it is morally wrong. I think there are better ways to sell a product.

  20. I know a lot of comedians, and I have myself, resorted to social deviancy in my humor. Take a look at Lewis CK, almost everything he says is extremely inappropriate and socially deviant, but that being said, he is hilarious. This type of humor surprises people, and gives them a thrill, as most people think deviantly but don’t act on those emotions. It definitely works.

  21. I believe that many of the commercials with this type of theme are entertaining, funny, hilarious, and definitely grab the viewers attention. Although I am partial to those people who might find them overwhelmingly aggressive/offensive. I also feel that these themes in advertisements can be very attractive to other people as well. Some people may find them very funny. I believe for these commercials to not be overly aggressive/offensive they need to be somewhat generic in who they are poking fun at or what category they are making a joke of. If the commercial becomes to pinpointing into one group in society or one person it could make some people feel uncomfortable and turned off.

  22. I think that social order deviancy is a good marketing technique because people are interested in what is out of the norm. In everyday life we are so used to seeing normal and socially acceptable. When a video uses these social order deviancy techniques they grab the viewers attention and leave a lasting image in their mind.

  23. I think that social order deviancy is a solid technique to boost viral video stats because it is an attention grabber. We are so used to societal norms, and seeing things that are normal in everyday life. When there is a commercial that uses a technique such a social order deviancy it immediately grabs the viewers attention. It sticks in their mind as well for the same reason. The shock effect leaves a lasting image in the mind of the viewer and is what is so effective about using social order deviancy. Finally, I think that this technique generates a buzz as well. People talk about things that are out of the norm.

  24. Using social order deviancy is a good way to market. I found myself laughing at a lot of the commercials that use this type of marketing (especially the offensive behaviors). Some of the most memorable commercials use this type of marketing to grab the audience’s attention. For example, Orbit gum commercials use the bleeping language technique to sell their product of “cleaning up a dirty mouth.” I also found the use of social order deviancy to be comical in the commercial I found using farting as an offensive behavior to get the point across about “casual” smoking. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kx0ywZxhEE8

  25. I like the “outwitting the honorable” category from all the categories the best. I think the viewer can identify themselves with the actors/figures and can even try to use the actor’s cleverness.

    1. This is a powerful technique, Florian, in this day and age of political satire. I often laugh at the target of this humor (e.g., court judges. distinguished professors and the law.

  26. I believe it is a effective way to grab people through offensive behavior and forbidden behavior but I don’t think it is the best way to make a commercial because some of this commercial will not be able to air on cable because of it is to offensive to people.

  27. I think social order deviancy forms can be effective. As you said in your blog, we love watching others unleash their innate desire to break the law, enter forbidden territory or simply act out their inhibitions. It just makes us laugh whenever we see this type of behavior.

    1. It’s interesting to note, Ines, that this form of humor taps into two forms of humor: (1) sudden glory from superiority and (2) the release of tension or energy from suppressed feelings. In effect, we are mocking society (i.e., superiority theory) while letting go of our inhibitions (i.e., relief theory). Together, these two sources of laughter have contributed to the success of social order deviancy in viral YouTube videos. This form of humor comes in at number two on average YouTube views. Thank you for your comment.

  28. I think businesses take a risk by engaging in social order deviancy forms of marketing. The content that is expected to be humorous may be considered offensive to someone of a different culture, to any woman who feels the unleashed mania “swooning women” form of marketing is overly sexualizing women, or just parents who take offense to the vulgar language and actions used in commercials such as these because of what their children may interpret from watching them. I have personally never used this form of marketing, but if done correctly I think social order deviancy can be highly effective.

    1. Many agree with you, Kelsey. This form of humor could be quite offensive. I believe some forms are acceptable when the poke fun of society in a generic sense. We see this in public disturbances or uncouth behaviors. Who doesn’t want to scream in traditionally quite places or get some honorable so-and-so to loosen up. On the other hand, I think we take considerable risks in targeting our satires at a group highly sensitive to culture, morality or their perceived oppression. Thank you for the comment.

  29. Although these types of commercials can sometimes send the wrong message across, I think they are also sometimes provide the most humor. Because most of the activities being carried out in the commercials (half naked at work, talking about slutty girls with the priest…) people can enjoy seeing these farfetched activities because they would be considered unimaginable in reality.

    1. I think beyond being “unimaginable,” Paul, the thrill is committing the “forbidden.” I often find myself enjoying someone violating the rules or committing something considered uncouth or taboo. Who doesn’t want to give our nuns and priests a taste of their own medicine.

      It think the resulting laughter goes back to the thrill of being naughty. In effect, many of us likely laugh when we are embarrassed or are unveiled of our darkest secrets. Much of this occurs when we show our hidden anger or desire to lash out at authority figures. Maybe it’s a way of getting back at their repressive demands. By being so personal, I think we laugh all the harder. This is not the case for comic wit or putdowns.

      But regardless of its impact, I also agree it could send the wrong message. i.e., Most of the outbursts are aggressive or sexual in nature. Consequently, the risk of being offensive is very high.

      Thank you for the insights.

  30. I think social order deviancy is an effective marketing tactic because people are naturally attracted to irreverance especially if it is in a virtual setting for entertainment purposes.

    1. I agree, Nicola. Sometimes there is nothing more gratifying than putting some pompous snob or self-righteous institution in their place. Commercials using this type of humor are among the most popular for attention and recall. However, the method does not invite as much engagement as putdowns, exaggeration and irony. Thank you for your comment.

  31. I really enjoyed this style of marketing, I thought all styles were pretty funny in getting there point across. Although I feel some of these commercials may be offensive, especially the taboos and sacred barriers. I have never resorted to using social order deviancy barriers in my presentations.

    1. I haven’t engaged in this either, Maegan. It runs a high risk of being offensive. I have to admit that some of the satires made me really laugh even though I was brought up in some of the same Catholic environments. I suppose Freud would attribute this to our innate desire to act out inhibitions. SHAME ON ALL OF US! Lol.

  32. Watching the old Hysteria commercials you can see why they work so good back then and began a instant classic’s and still today never get old.

    1. That’s a good point, Alex. This type of humor dates back centuries. Satire, in particular, has been performed in theatres since medieval times. Through the 1950s, 60s and 70s, this was arguably the most popular comedy featured in sitcoms. Thank you for sharing.

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