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  • Writer's pictureTony

The Advertising Uncertainty Principle

What is it that makes people respond to one advert and not another?

This week I was discussing advertisements with a couple of pals at the Toppled Bollard dance emporium and complaining about the sad state of the copy used by those poor mites who are forced, probably under pain of death, to write advertisements for telephone sales people.

The opening lines that I seem to get are either

“Can I speak to Mr Attwood?” to which I reply, “Sorry nobody here of that name.”

Or, "Have you been in an accident that wasn't your fault?"

To which one of my chums said she replies, “No, but I do rather enjoy catching rainbows, or at least I did until one turned round and bit me on the leg last week. But nice of you to ask.” And then, of course, she put the phone down.

The point is that in both cases the callers are advertising what they are selling from the off. There is no intrigue, no build up of interest, no uncertainty. And yet, to my mind, most successful advertisements have within them a certain degree of uncertainty.

Indeed I think that one could create a table showing a positive correlation between the uncertainty engendered by the opening of an advertisement and the chances of anyone buying anything.

Just as we don’t always eat the same food, go and watch the same movie over and over, or have the same conversation with a friend or partner, we want variety in adverts as in life.

If you want to test me on this you can, of course. Send your current advertisement to, and the next time I drop into the office on my way to the Bollard I’ll take a peek and write to you and tell you how you could vary it.

No charge, of course, and no obligation on your part. But it could make you a fortune.

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