The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Podcast Brand Strategy Open Mic

Why marketers need to embrace the funny when it comes to podcasting



Open Mic article

This content is produced by a publishing partner of Open Mic.

Open Mic is the self-publishing platform for the marketing industry, allowing members to publish news, opinion and insights on

Find out more

March 26, 2024 | 6 min read

For The Drum's entertainment focus week, the IAB look to their Audio Group for insights on how brands can make their podcasts funny, and why that's so important in today's world.

A woman listens to a brand's comedy podcast with headphones; she is laughing

In a world where it's sometimes hard to find the funny, more and more audiences are seeking out comedic relief via the medium of podcasts. According to a report by media company Global, 80% of listeners say that comedy is more important than ever and 86% said that they’re turning to the genre to improve their mood.

Working with humor can be daunting, so what is the key to nailing it? And what brands are tickling their audience’s funny bone already? Here, members of the IAB’s Audio Group share their insights.

Name a brand you think is doing ‘funny’ well via podcasting

Airbnb: clever creative from inside jokes

Faye McDowall (strategy director, DAX at Global): “Airbnb are currently running a sponsorship of Three Bean Salad. The brand really took time to understand the audience, and use the in-jokes that loyal fans appreciate, to bring Airbnb’s brand values to life when approving the host-reads.

"Another brand who is getting it right is Stripe and Stare. The underwear brand allowed the team at My Therapist Ghosted Me to be honest about the product features in the way one might talk to friends about a really comfy pair of knickers. The line, “Ugg boots for the ass,” is surely one that will stand out with the audience and give them a laugh.”

The Economist: a bespoke rap with Adam Buxton

Patrick Dolan (activation director, the7stars): “Host-read podcast ads are a great way to capitalize on the very intimate connection between podcaster and listener. Podcast hosts excel at resonating with consumers on an emotional level, and they will automatically apply this approach to their ad presentations.

“Adding humor and personality to ad-reads will only increase engagement. One podcaster that is doing this particularly well is British comedian Adam Buxton. Buxton's ability to blend humor within live reads transforms client briefs into engaging content. A brand Adam worked with well in this style was the news publication The Economist. He created a bespoke rap to highlight their offering to a younger audience.

“Allowing hosts the creative freedom to craft enjoyable brand experiences infused with their own unique personalities is essential. This will enhance ad receptivity and enrich the overall listener experience.”

Creating ‘funny’ ads can be intimidating for marketers. What advice can you share?

Trust your top talent

Richard Blake (director of marketing & growth, Fresh Air Production): “Hire the best talent - some of our best comedy writers are available and ready to write jokes. Get them involved and don’t be afraid to give them room to fail. They’re used to getting jokes over the line whilst staying on the right side of a brand’s guidelines.

“Get the medium right - audio allows the writing to really come through and the freedom to get the best talent and the best take. Creating your own podcast gives you time and space to build the funny rather than relying on one joke. Using the tropes of the medium (in this case, true crime podcasts) gives you loads of material to work with and special ‘Easter eggs’ for those who are listening closely.

“Get inspiration from YouTube and TikTok creators - what’s being shared and commented on in your brand’s space? And trust your instincts - don’t try too hard to search for the laugh. But do try.”

Tune into the wit

Matthew Rouse (podcast lead, Octave Audio): "If marketers are intimidated by the fact they might not be Edinburgh Fringe material, why not tap into the professionals who are already on the circuit by deploying a host read sponsorship in a top comedian’s podcast?

“Comedy is by far the most listened-to genre in podcasting in the UK and you could give your podcast-listening target audience (who is more likely than not to be tuning in alone and via headphones) a taste of your brand that is delivered in their own inimitable style with a huge side helping of wit. What’s not to love about that?"

Create ads the audience will stick around for

Sharon Taylor (podcast strategy & product operations, Triton Digital): “Comedy was the third most popular podcast category in the US in 2023 and is consistently in the top five most-downloaded podcast categories in countries around the globe. The ever growing audience is culturally diverse, spread across the 18-49 age bracket, feel connected to the show’s hosts in a personal way and enjoy the ad reads so much that shows sometimes do special all-ad episodes – it’s an advertisers paradise.

“To be successful when testing this genre, advertisers need to lean on the show to create a good read that stays within the bounds of a well-written brief and remember that they picked the talent for a reason – trust them and allow the magic to happen.”

Podcast Brand Strategy Open Mic

Content by The Drum Network member:


The Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB UK) is the industry body for digital advertising, committed to building a sustainable future for digital advertising. We do...

Find out more

More from Podcast

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +