Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Stirring Bulletin #2

For communications to be more effective, they need to exercise appropriate restraint to successfully engage an audience on their terms.

In the quest to ‘stand out from the clutter’ and ‘do more with less’ there is a greater (and less discriminating) use of shock tactics to grab attention. Equally troubling is the trend of communications towards more telling and selling than engaging with people on their terms.

Engaging in a communication is a contract (albeit an intangible one). People give their time and attention in exchange for a reward. It goes beyond the rational acquisition of facts and information, it is the possibility of a psychic reward. This is not just an emotional reward that comes from the content of the ad, such as humor. It’s the lift one gets from the figuring out an ad, which comes from active not passive participation. It makes people feel clever.

There's another important bonus not to be over-looked. Investing something more than mere attention to figure the ad out – imagination, creative problem solving, deduction – and getting a psychic reward inspires a psychological bond. It may not itself motivate people to drop everything and go an buy the product. But it creates a openness, a positive disposition towards the brand that is separate from whatever the content might be.


The Middle Ages

Communications are created to be complete in design, containing all desirable elements and requiring the audience to bring only their attention

Renaissance thinking

The notion of the audience as participants in communications is taken into account in their creation. It requires restraint: leaving room for the viewer to fill in the space to complete the comprehension.

Example: McDonald's Outdoor Board

Requires the viewer to realize it is acting as a sundial to show that it is time for McDonald's foods and beverages throughout the day.

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