Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, August 04, 2021

Inspired by the proximity of Christian and Muslim sidewalk preachers in downtown Toronto — who chant their messages at regular intervals while handing out holy literature — Joel wants to promote his own (lack of) creed:

I’m atheist. I’m thinking of taking up residence on one of the remaining two corners of the intersection, standing there silently and handing out blank pages of paper.

And the funnier thing is, everyone who takes one of those blank slates will be converted, even though they won’t know it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/04/2021 07:38 PM
Category: Comedy, Society
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Apparently, every single example of effective advertising can be slotted into one of 12 more-or-less distinct categories.

And this categorization has been around for 30 years, yet:

In 1978, Donald Gunn was a creative director for the advertising agency Leo Burnett. Though his position implied expertise, Gunn felt he was often just throwing darts—relying on inspiration and luck (instead of proven formulas) to make great ads. So, he decided to inject some analytical rigor into the process: He took a yearlong sabbatical, studied the best TV ads he could find, and looked for elemental patterns.

After much research, Gunn determined that nearly all good ads fall into one of 12 categories—or “master formats,” in his words.

You can take examine prime examples of these master formats via slideshow (which is my preference) or video (which I disdain, or else I’d have embedded it here). But if you’d rather not trudge through either of those links, here’s the rundown:

1. The Demo - A visual demonstration of a product’s capabilities.

2. Present the Need or Problem - Position whatever it is you’re selling as the remedy to one of life’s many challenges or shortcomings. Can be direct (“you’re fat, so take/eat/wear this”), or more of a manufactured dilemma (“do you realize you probably don’t have enough life insurance?”).

3. Symbol, Analogy, or Exaggerated Graphic (Illustrating the Problem) - Variation on the above need-or-problem format, but instead of explicitly mentioning the problem, it’s visually presented. A guy suffering from athlete’s foot is shown having flames bursting out of his socks — time for tough-actin’ Tinactin!

4. Comparison - Basic side-by-side with a competing product/service, and why yours rocks while theirs sucks.

5. Exemplary Story - A narrative in which the product/service comes along and makes things all better.

6. Benefit Causes Story - Sort of a wait-for-it with a punchline approach. A sequence of events is presented, something inexplicable manifests that catches the viewers attention, then the product/service is revealed as the x-factor that accounts for the strangeness. This Lynx body-spray ad, which seems to mesmerize women into dream dates, is a good example.

7. Tell It/Presenter/Testimonial - A talking head talks (supposedly) from the heart about how great this stuff is. Especially effective when celebrity spokespeople are recruited for it.

8. Ongoing Characters and Celebrities - Basically a personification of the product/service in the form of a catchy/familiar character, fictional or not. Everything from the Pillsbury Doughboy to back-in-the-day chicken-king Frank Perdue makes this list.

9. Symbol, Analogy, or Exaggerated Graphic (Illustrating the Benefit) - Similar tack to No. 3 above, but instead of the “Before” situation being illustrated, the “After” resolution is when the fantastical audio-visual kicks in. A dingy living room is shown; after Mrs. Housekeeper sprays some air freshener, that chimey magical music sounds, a little graphic pixie dust flies through, and that dreary scene is suddenly brightened up. Mazel tov!

10. Associated User Imagery - Showcase the type of people, or ideal location, or ideal situation, with which the product/service should be favorably identified. These hipsters and pretty people all wear Levi Dockers — why aren’t you??

11. Unique Personality Property - Something in the product/service’s DNA is distinctive, and thus potentially attractive to its target market. Perrier comes from France, so the Eurotrash wannabe in you has to have it!

12. Parody or Borrowed Format - Relying on broad cultural — especially pop-cultural — sensibilities to achieve an inside-joke effect. Movies, television shows, and even other ads are fair game in this meta-media Vulcan mindtrick pitch.

Slate’s presentation fixes on TV ad applications of these formats. I think they apply to radio, print and Web advertising as well. I wonder where the more unconventional approaches, like viral campaigns and product placements, would fit; maybe they constitute a new 13th category.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/04/2021 04:31 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg.
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Figures. A full month’s worth of Summer Sessions at Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum has gone by, and I’m only now finding out about this party. If a weekly guest-DJ gig in a museum courtyard qualifies as a “party”.

But it looked festive enough, when I swung up to the Upper East Side yesterday evening to take a look. I would have gone in, but it was nearly closing time when I showed up. All I got was a peek at Nicole Otero in mid-groove, spinning discs for a spread-out crowd of lounging hipsters.

Next Friday, it’s Sleepy & Boo’s turn. Might as well hit it. It’ll serve as a kick-off for an evening of UES exploration, so a change of pace.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/04/2021 03:20 PM
Category: New Yorkin', Pop Culture
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