Third Advertising Fundamental: Visual and Verbal.

The third fundamental to deal with is visual and verbal. 

And again: It should not come as a surprise to anyone, that this third fundamental links closely to the other fundamentals.  It is not a third fundamental in terms of something entirely different from the the first two. It’s another side of the same coin. An added aspect.

In a commercial, a good idea is to check if it contains the same message sound turned off. Simply block the sound and describe the message. Then turn up the sound and describe the message once more. If you, roughly, don’t get the same result, you may have some revising to do.

Visual and verbal need to be coherent and stick together? In what way?

Don’t tell, show!

First of all, research seems to stress that it very important that support your message actively: don’t tell, show.

Schwerin and Newell mentions two different commercials they did for a shockproof wristwatch. The first commercial “was a straight stand-up pitch by an announcer, interspersed with occasional static shots of the the watch and superimposed legends”. That commercial did a very poor selling job, says the two authors.

And they continue: “The second commercial showed the product on the wrist of a sculptor who was violently hammering away at a block of marble with mallet and chisel”.

And guess what: In terms of selling the second commercial did much better than the first commercial by far. Measured by Schwerin and Newell it did SEVEN TIMES better.

Not at odds

Is does little good if the visual is at odds with the verbal, says the authors. SCR tested two commercials for a toothpaste. The message being that the toothpaste leaves a clean and fresh taste in the user’s mouth. The first version showed a white row of sparkling teeth, and a speaker told the story. The second version showed the same set of shining teeth, but this time the commercial included” a misty balloon effect surrounding the words CLEAN BREATH”.

The latter commercial worked better, and in terms of recall of the message it worked twice as good as the first one.

Not at the same time

Again, don’t try do to too many things at the same time. I will not work. Trying to get someone to respond to more than one message at the same time seems to destroy impact. Schwerin and Newell refers to a case where a car commercial flashes the words “fasten your seat belts” at the same moment as a speaker asks the audience to see the local dealer. It did not work. ” …. the consumer becomes emotionally paralyzed because he can respond to only one stimulus at a time and he is being confused by two simultaneous alternatives”.

Other posts

You’ll find 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.

For an overview of the whole section please go here.

If you want to go for the book making your learning curve steeper and faster, here is the Library Thing information on it. 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.


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