A Day at the Zoo
- People in museums stop to look at paintings that have people in them, but walk past paintings that have no people.
- Ninety percent of the books sold each year are fiction.
- Ninety percent of the books written each year are non-fiction.
- The same is true in movies and television: fiction beats non-fiction 10 to 1.
- Non-fiction is facts and figures, problems and processes, tips and techniques.
- Fiction is interesting people living fascinating lives.
- Non-fiction is reality and reality is a wildebeest held captive in a zoo.
- Fiction is escaping the zoo and adventuring in the wild.
- Good writing shines a mental movie onto the movie screen of the mind.
- Do the movies you write feature people in a zoo, or people in the wild? Are the people in your ads empty and hollow like zoo animals, or are they vivid and real like people you know?
Henry David Thoreau told us, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
If you want to touch the quiet desperation in the heart of your customer, write ads that describe their pain and frustration, then offer to deliver them from it.
If you want to touch the song that is in them, write ads that speak of freedom, fulfillment and joy. Show them the fascinating life they could be living.
A well-written ad shines a mental movie onto the visuospatial sketchpad of working memory, the movie screen of the mind, located in the dorsolateral prefrontal association area.1
On paper, on a computer screen, on a billboard, or coming through the speakers of a computer, a television or radio, words, words, words, words, words, words, words create those mental movies.
- Online reviews are powerful.
- Online reviews are not facts and logic.
- Online reviews are people’s impressions and reactions.
- Impressions and reactions are far more interesting than facts and logic.
- When a person describes their impressions and reactions, they are shining a mental movie into your mind.
Q: Are you telling me that I should use customer testimonials in my ads?
A: No, because you will not be able to resist editing your customer’s testimonial and the moment you touch it, that testimonial will become a predictable ad delivered by a ventriloquist’s dummy.
Q: Why do ad writers assume the public is hungry for facts and logic?
A: Most ad writers follow the rules of journalism when they should be following the rules of screenwriting.
Journalists deliver facts. Screenwriters deliver fascination.
Shine on, screenwriter, shine on.
Roy H. Williams