Jedi Mind Tricks
Once you know who you are sending your message to, attention getting techniques must be applied. Three such techniques are Irony, Parallelism, and Reversal.
Alternative meanings between copy & graphics
Get attention by showing how the target audience doesn’t want to end up or the product is not meant to be used. Just be sure that you don’t go for the over-obvious.
For example, an anti-smoking ad might start with a visual of an obviously unhealthy very aged man with no teeth smiling with a cigarette dangling out of one corner of his mouth. The default headline would be “Don’t wind up like him.”
A better headline would be “Smoking is glamorous”.
A headline tactic
Parallelism is the notion that sentence elements identical in thought should be made identical in grammatical form, that form and function should collide.
2 Sentences: George liked jean and often walked behind her on the way to school. Jean was also accompanied sometimes to school by Ronald, who also liked her, but who often could be seen walking behind her.
Made Shorter: George liked Jean and often walked beside her on the way to school. Jean was also accompanied by Ronald, who walked behind her.
Parallel: George liked Jean and walked beside her to school.
Ronald liked Jean and walked behind her to school.
-George Felton Advertising Concept and Copy, pg 95
Parallel structure is really a matter of balance. Balancing a sentence can be compared to balancing a scale if we pretend that certain words — and, or, but — are the balancing points and if we understand that the words being balanced must carry the same “weight” in the sentence. One part of speech or part of a sentence can be balanced only by one (or a series) of the same kind.
Notice that modifiers (like “down by the pier,” “with the sunrise,” and “of the fisherman”) do not affect the balance of the sentences.
I enjoy biking and to walk down by the pier.
I enjoy biking and walking down by the pier.
This example sentence is unbalanced because “and” divides two different parts of speech. An “ing” word is used before and, while an infinitive, “to walk,” is used after. To make the sentence parallel, simply use the same part of speech for both ideas.
Boy Scouts at the camp can learn cooking, canoeing, swimming, or how to make ropes.
Boy Scouts at the camp can learn cooking, canoeing, swimming, or rope making.
Here again, the form of the last item, “how to make ropes,” doesn’t match the other items and seems too heavy. To balance the sentence, change the form to match as in the parallel example.
Non-traditional students often study long hours, get limited sleep, and up again with the sunrise.
Non-traditional students often study long hours, get limited sleep, and are up again with the sunrise.
This time the sentence is unbalanced because the first two phrases include verbs, “study” and “get,” but the last phrase doesn’t contain a verb. To be parallel, each phrase should follow the pattern of the first one in the series. This can be accomplished by adding a verb to the last phrase.
Parallelism using common connectors
A slightly different parallelism involves the common connectors– either/or, neither/nor, not only/but also. Here, the kind of word or part of a sentence that follows the first connector must be the same as the kind following the second. Consider the following examples.
The storm front was moving either east through Minneapolis or northeast through Duluth.
Here the two prepositional phrases are parallel; they are the same kind of structure.
The hurricane not only destroyed the fishing fleet but also the homes of the fishermen.
The hurricane destroyed not only the fishing fleet but also the homes of the fishermen.
In this case, the verb “destroyed” cannot balance the noun “homes.” The sentence should be rewritten so that “destroyed” appears before “not only” and so nouns follow both connectors.
Turning clichés inside out
Take something significant out – or put it in. If the target audience is programmed to expect something, take it in the opposite direction. Nothing gets our attention like turning expectations upside down.
Chivas Regal and Seagram’s Crown Royal realized that most liquor ads are made up of happy smiling people gathering over drinks. They then showed us a broken bottle with the headline “Ever seen a grown man cry?”
They showed us an empty bottle with the headline “If you think people buy Chivas Regal just for the bottle, try selling this one.”
Metaphors (Describe what they don’t know in terms of what they DO know)
Example: All the world’s a stage….
This often works well for services, since the difference between one and another is intangible – there is no physical difference.
Also, a tangible good cannot be experienced via an advertisement. Music cannot be heard via the pages of Rolling Stone.
People don’t buy Porsches for the basic tangible need for transportation, or do they?
Fused metaphors are typically found in print ads, and occur when a literal element of the ad has been altered metaphorically.
For example, an ad for Oh Henry candy bars shows a candy bar bent almost in half to fit in the photo. The headline reads, “Any other bar would fit”.
This is a fused metaphor for the relatively large size of an Oh Henry bar.