I just read the Memo for 4-3-2023 and I have a question/request. As you know, the Memo quotes Orson Welles as follows:
“I want to give the audience a hint of a scene. No more than that. Give them too much and they won’t contribute anything themselves. Give them just a suggestion and you get them working with you.”
Can Roy give an example of how to accomplish this in an ad?
Here’s a script for a radio ad I wrote the day before I received your email.
RICK: I’ve got an idea and I want to share it with you.
MONICA: (confused) Are you talking to me?
RICK: No, I’m talking the radio audience.
SARAH: (surprised) Oh, we’re doing THAT now?
MONICA: What’s the idea you have for the radio audience?
RICK: It’s epic. It’s unconventional. It’s completely transparent.
SARAH: Now you’re talking to Monica and me, right?
RICK: No, still talking to the radio audience.
MONICA: Men or women?
RICK: Could be either one.
MONICA: Say what you’ve got to say, Rick. Sarah and I will just listen in.
RICK: (conspiratorial) You’re in the car. You’re driving. Your partner is seated next to you. You drive into a parking lot and stop the car directly in front of Kesslers Diamonds. You turn off the car. You turn to your partner and… looking them directly in the eyes, you say, “Do you want to go in and look around?”[Monica and Sarah simultaneously burst into laughter and – breathless – can barely talk]
SARAH: Rick that’s gangster!
MONICA: Definitely transparent.
[Monica and Sarah continue laughing noisily through the end of the ad]
RICK: Kesslers has the strongest diamond warranty in America. When you read those 36 words, it’s going to blow your mind. For the Kesslers nearest you, visit KesslersDiamonds.com
© 2023, Roy H. Williams
Nick, below you’ll see what Orson was talking about when he said, “Get them working with you.”
This is what the listener is contributing after being given the hints of a SCENE: “These three people obviously know each other. One of them has an idea for a radio ad. He seems excited about it. Evidently, these three people work together.”
This is what Rick told us was his Big Idea: You’re in the car. You’re driving. Your partner is seated next to you. You drive into a parking lot and stop the car directly in front of Kesslers Diamonds. You turn off the car. You turn to your partner and… looking them directly in the eyes, you say, “Do you want to go in and look around?”
This is what the listener is contributing after hearing Rick’s Big Idea:
1. The listener contributes the color and make and model of the car, because this is the listener’s car. THEY are driving. Rick said it could be a man or a woman, remember?
2. The listener chooses the person that is seated next to them as they drive into the parking lot and park directly in front of Kesslers Diamonds.
3. The listener imagines whose eyes they are looking into when they ask, “Do you want to go in and look around?”
4. The listener decides that Rick’s Big Idea is a new way to propose marriage. Rick never mentions marriage, remember? The only thing we are told is that they are parked in front of a diamond store.
5. Most listeners will come to the realization, “The person behind the wheel of that car has decided the time has come… and they are so closely bonded to their lover that they don’t have to be romantic and mushy and put on a big performance. That reminds me of __________ and me! We’ve driven to what is obviously an engagement ring store and – still sitting in the car – I pose a simple question: “Are you ready to do this?”
6. The breathless laughter and affirming comments of Monica and Sarah cause the listener to realize that this would be a wildly unconventional way to propose marriage to their lover.
7. Most importantly, this ad causes the listener to imagine proposing – however they want to do it – and it causes them to imagine GOING TO KESSLERS DIAMONDS. We want every listener to unconsciously connect Kesslers Diamonds to that future moment. And the people who work at Kesslers and acted out that skit – Monica, Sarah, and Rick – are lighthearted, approachable, fun people. The subtext of that ad was, “Hey, when that moment happens, these are your go-to people!”
8. At the end of the ad, Rick mentions Kesslers mind-blowing, 36-word warranty. But he doesn’t tell you the 36 words that will supposedly blow your mind. How many listeners to that ad will go to KesslersDiamonds.com to satisfy their curiosity about those 36 words? Heck, I’ll bet a bunch of you are about to do that right now.
Nick, are you beginning to understand how to cause the reader/listener/viewer to become a co-creator of the story with you as they participate in your ad?
You can do this, Nick. You’ve got this.
Roy H. Williams