First Advertising Fundamental: One Unified Impression.

Once again time to move on. Let me point a few posts back on the blog. Back to this post about fundamentals in persuasive advertising. You should really start by reading, or re-reading, that post.

The next about 10 posts on this blog will refer to that initial post, and more generally to the book Persuasion in Marketing written many years ago by Horace S. Schwerin and Henry H. Newell. Don’t for one moment think that this is outdated information even if the book was written in 1981, and nowadays only can be had as used and well read copies.

I have to say though, that in spite of the actuality of these fundamentals many of them seems to have been forgotten, even by people in the advertising business. I say this being the reader of newspapers and magazines. And the viewer of television. It is amazing what people, and ad agencies, get away with in terms of bad communication in advertising.

So let this post then, and the ones to come, be a reminder to the some advertising people that things can be improved. And a reminder to those paying for it, that much, much money could be invested much, much better by (among other things) observing some very simple, but well proven fundamentals.

One unified impression. What does it mean and how should it be understood? And how can you use it as an operative tool to improve your message? Please note that these fundamentals do not only have bearing on advertising, but on communication in general, if impact is what you are after. 

Schwerin and Newell: “The successful advertisement leaves the reader or viewer with a single unified impression. This does not mean that several related concepts cannot be fused together to make a harmonious whole. It does mean that presenting a series of unconnected ideas should be avoided”.

It is not more problematic than that. Let me illustrate this with yet another photograph. 

Copyright 2008: Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved.

This photographic message is by no means a simple or uncomplicated one. Look alone at the number of different elements that goes into it. Let me mention the most obvious; three people of different race and colour, a large mask, balloons, decorative items of different shape and content. Many reasons to possibly get confused here, but you don’t do you?

I say, that in terms of one unified impression this image does the job. And it does it pretty well 🙂 The reason is that none of the elements in it contradict or disturb each other. There are no elements in this pictures that takes you off track, initiates your mind to wanders off in a direction not wanted. Hopefully you agree with me in this. If not, please let me hear from you in a comment to the post and we’ll take the discussion there.

Even if the picture mainly is here to illustrate one unified impression, can other things be said about it? Things that have a bearing on communication in general? I think so. Notice the denotations and connotations that comes with it. Some of the denotative elements have already been mentioned, three people, mask, balloons, different decorative objects to wear on your body.

What about connotations? How would you describe them? Is Roland Barthes at work here as well with one, or more, of this connotation procedures? I think so. I would say that what Barthes says about pose fits this picture well. See this post. You judge it. I could go one. Take a look at how gestalt factors work in this picture: proximity, similarity (or lack of it), closure, good curve, et cetera.

Here are some of the connotations that the image brings with it: happiness, movement, excitement, movement, joy. There are many, many more. The point is that they all forward the same unified message. The same unified impression. 

Normally you have text in advertising, as well. Not only pictures. What then about the text? How should the text then work to enhance the message? The art of the copywriter is to fall in, or to direct, the one unified impression. Schwerin and Newell: “Once you have settled on the promise, every idea in the message should reinforce and amplify it”.

Just to make this even clearer: We are talking about ONE single impression here, not one and a half, not two, not three. I am sorry to say, that this amount is what the average human brain seems to be able to handle simultaneously. 

For those who read Danish, or even Scandinavian, there are more on advertising fundamentals in these articles and this book. Or even, and much better, try to get a copy of the book in question.

The main tag of this thread on advertising fundamentals is rules of persuasion so you can always come back to it by hitting that tag in the tag cloud.

Other posts

You’ll find direct links to the other posts in this series on advertising fundamentals, below. If the post title is linked, it means that the posts has been submitted, and that you will get to it if you follow the link. If the fundamental is not yet linked, it means that that the post is not there yet. So you need to have a little patience.

First Fundamental: One Unified Impression.

Second Fundamental: Dominant Mood.

Third Fundamental: Visual and Verbal.

Fourth Fundamental: The Simple Truth.

Fifth Fundamental: Product of Consumer.

Sixth Fundamental: The Right Consumer.

Seventh Fundamental: Thoughts Worth Entertaining.

If you want to go for the book making your learning curve steeper and faster, here is the Library Thing information on it. And you’ll get the full information here as well:  Persuasion in Marketing, The Dynamics of Marketing’s Great Untapped Resource, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1981.

All for now. Stay tuned. A post on the second fundamental will emerge on this blog real soon. 


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