Influence people

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Reality Doesn't Interest Me

Whoopee.

The quadrennial mudfest is upon us.

Is there any wonder why presidential campaigns have for decades been models of manipulation and deceit?

Elections are easy to sway when the majority of the electorate sleepwalks through life.

As journalist Walter Lippman observed his 1922 essay Public Opinion, elections are decided not only by "normal members of society"by whom he meant people who are informedbut by "persons who are mentally children or barbarians, people whose lives are a morass of entanglements, people whose vitality is exhausted, shut-in people, and people whose experience has comprehended no factor in the problem under discussion."

I am certain you'd welcome a substantive debate of political issues this election season as much as I.

But that's not likely to happen.

As propagandist Leni Riefenstahl once said, "Reality doesn't interest me."

Monday, August 13, 2012

Short Words Win

George Orwell advised, "Never use a long word where a short one will do."

The results of a 2005 experiment by psychologist Daniel Oppenheimer suggest Orwell was onto something.

Oppenheimer showed that writers who use big words needlessly are judged by readers as less intelligent than writers who use short ones.

To conduct his study, the Princeton psychologist borrowed students' writing samples and doctored them.

First, he created "highly complex" versions by replacing every noun, verb and adjective with its longest synonym.

Next, he created "moderately complex" versions by replacing every third noun, verb and adjective with its longest synonym.

Oppenheimer then asked subjects to read the various writing samples and rate the intelligence of their authors.

Across the board, the original samples won out over the moderately and highly complex versions.

Oppenheimer concluded, "Contrary to prevailing wisdom, increasing the complexity of a text does not cause an essay’s author to seem more intelligent. In fact, the opposite appears to be true."

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Name Game


YouTube.
FireWire. 
Lean Cuisine.
Why do rhymes make such powerful product names?
Because they're self-contained.
"Rhymes create a sense of symmetry and completion," writes naming pro Steve Rivkin in Branding Strategy Insider.
Rhymes also lessen confusion and "Humans like anything that simplifies the buzzing confusion in the world," according to Harvard linguist Steven Pinker.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Dreck Mail

The US Postal Service may be floundering, but neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will stay advertisers' use of direct mail.


No matter how attractively designed, in my book a direct mail piece that obscures the product or its benefits fails.


Case in point.


Yesterday's delivery brought me a hefty, richly printed B2B piece.


The piece arrived in a clear polywrap sleeve.


The advertiser was a major oil company.  


On the front side, below my name and address, appeared an offer ("Earn 5% rebates up to $30 on fuel purchases for 60 days").


On the reverse side was a large panel with a picture of a twisted highway.  


Above the picture was the headline, "Sometimes, managing your vehicles can seem, well... unmanageable."


I had to open the piece and pull a tab (marked "Pull") to slide the panel out.


My action revealed a picture of a straight highway.


Above was the headline, "Introducing real control and convenience."


Get it?


Before and after.


Before and after pictures should prompt me to visualize the product's benefits.


In this instance, they didn't.


I guess a picture isn't always worth a thousand words.


Only by opening the folder and reading the enclosures did I learn the oil company was pushing its credit card.


That's just too much work.
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