Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, March 25, 2021

getting the drop
Commerce and conceptual art collide in the form of the Passive Aggressive Anger Release Machine:

Experience the most satisfying feeling when a piece of china breaks into million pieces. All you have to do is insert a coin, and a piece of china will slowly move forwards and fall into the bottom of the machine, breaking, and leaving you happy and relieved of anger.

Which would deliver the most satisfying shattering: The vase, the gravy boat, or the ceramic kitty? And, in true vending-machine fashion, what happens when the cradle fails to deliver the drop — do you rock the machine, as you would when trying to retrieve a stubbornly-hanging Snickers?

I’d think this North American installation would go over big in Japan, where they practically live off of all manner of vending macines. And speaking of cross-cultural impact, there’s no telling how this controlled destruction of porcelain compares with the Greek wedding tradition of smashing plates.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/25/2010 11:21pm
Category: Comedy, Creative
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blanket statement
At this point, the simple phrase “but wait, there’s more!” is beyond redemption, thanks to its cheesy sales-pitching origins:

“But wait, there’s more!” was [direct marketer Arthur] Schiff’s signature creation, his “Hamlet” and “Moby-Dick.” It eclipsed his other immortal catchphrases: “Isn’t that amazing?” “Now how much would you pay?” and “Act now and you’ll also receive…” He wrote “Wait, there’s more” for a spot for Ginsu knives (a product Schiff himself named, supposedly in his sleep), which has become one of the best-known commercials ever, and surely one of the most parodied.

And yet, despite the pop-cultural baggage they carry, those four little words still work as a value proposition, selling everything from life insurance to Snuggies. That’s because of the time-honored persuasive power behind the snappy wordplay:

But wait, there’s more! is the application of a rhetorical tactic in the amplification family of techniques developed by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Amplification makes your argument or offer more enticing by progressively “turning up the volume” as you proceed with the case you’re making.

That rhetorical tactic is formally called dirimens copulatio. The bluntest use of the second, amplifying statement involves a clearly contrary element, i.e. “not only that, but also…”. Using “there’s more” is actually a subtler approach at amplification — it suggests added value in exchange for continued attention.

Indeed, that’s how the complete Ginsu-born catchphrase works: By manufacturing a sense of urgency. Even if you weren’t enthralled by the preceding argument, the assumptive exhortation mind-tricks you into thinking that you were (if even subconsciously). The follow-on call to action at least buys time for a further sales pitch, and thus a better chance to close the deal.

A lot of psychology to back up a snippet of hucksterism. Like I said, “but wait, there’s more!” has been so overused in the arena of infomercials and similar hard-sell marketing that it’s now a self-parody. I certainly can’t use it, or hear it, without an instant ironic association. Latin lineage of dirimens copulatio aside, the catchphrase simply can’t be taken seriously anymore. But its subtext is solid enough, which is why it still shills.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 03/25/2010 11:44am
Category: Advert./Mktg., Pop Culture, Wordsmithing
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