Web Copy Blog

Web Copy Blog header image 2

Applying the Jump principle in advertising

58 Comments · advertising laws

Originality is a boon to the advertising industry –I don’t mean intrinsically, in its own right, as some kind of artistic outlet for otherwise unemployable, young creative people.

Fact is, human beings respond faster to something original. Freshness and lightness have immediacy. Immediacy is attractive.

We are hard-wired to look for “the new.” The novelty of new focuses attention and as the first job of an ad is to get noticed (because only then will it be listened to), campaigns with truly original ideas have proved to be the most compelling of selling tools.

Originality is the wow factor. Without a healthy dose of it, the most thoughtful strategy and worthy intentions won’t get your ad up off the page. “Make it new for me,” implored the poet, Ezra pound.

In these days of utter media clutter, originality is the price of entry into people’s attention span; if they’ve seen it before, then they’ll dismiss it immediately.

The ordinary is overlooked, and the extraordinary is given a moment’s glance. “What was effective one day, for that very reason, will not be effective the next, because it has lost the maximum impact of originality,” said Bill Bernbach, way back in the 1960s.

Now, some commentators are arguing that modern society is moving from the “information age” into the so-called “creative age.” Brilliant.

Though I can’t say I’ve noticed a surge of originality across too many advertising markets recently. Why?

Perhaps it’s still as another great American, scientist Howard Allen, observed: “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.”

If so, then business leaders must change the way they think about ideas and about how their company cultures reflect that thinking. Business must cultivate a blood lust for ideas.

Easy to say, but we all know in the buttoned-up corridors of the corporate world that originality, by its nature, can be hard to appreciate in the raw.

Yet so many clients demand of their agency, “Please give me something like so and so …
The point is, when the first “so and so” was done, there was nothing like it at all.

That’s likely why it worked in the first place. It was in the first place. A truly original idea has no reference point.

If a thought is original, then there is nothing like it to easily judge it against; research is no help at the concept stage.

It was the philosopher Edmund Buke who put it succinctly: “You can’t plan the future by the past”

Which, in turn, causes another problem for us ad creators, because it means we’re often asking clients to take a step into the unknown. We may have made a creative leap, but the client must also make a leap of faith.

Creativity isn’t a linear process, by definition, so all the logic and cognitive analysis led to the creative brief is often of limited use. This is why, in some ways, it’s even harder to buy a great idea than to have one.

Yet, in my experience, a client who has tasted the blood of a great idea usually becomes a totally different beast.

“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions,” wrote author Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Problem is usual with advertising, half pregnancy. Too many advertisers try to get away with only using token originality, say, just in the filmmaking or photography or some other crafted area.

This is not usually enough. To be effective, look for originality in the basic thinking. The core idea.

Is there a pattern behind progress? When Columbus sailed west to get to India, when Gutenberg changed the rules of communication, when Luther challenged the Vatican, when Henry Ford revolutionized production, when Ghandi peacefully toppled the colonial power, when Konrad Zuse built the first computer, they did not take a step.
Whenever great minds change the world, they jump.

The same holds true for experiences. All great experiences are closely related to a jump.
To jumps is the simple and universal principle of moving people.

The Hungarian psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, coined a term for the very feeling caused by a jump: He called it “flow” It is the state of mind one experiences between being bored and being frightened to death.

Flow is literally the mood humans strive for. One may call it motivation, excitement, thrill – whatever.

Great communication carries people to this special point; it makes them cross a border emotionally, rationally or, at best, both.

People are also brought to this point by admen who have passed this border by themselves in the first place.

All great campaigns in advertising history are based on a jump. When bill Bernabach made Avis say “We try harder”, he broke the unwritten rule that you must never allow yourself to be perceived as second.

When Volkswagen asked the world to “Think small,” they left behind the previously unanimous declaration that bigger is better.

To shift from stepping to jumping is not just a privilege of the titans of (advertising) history. It is not even a privilege of an elite.

It is the behaviour of every baby that discovers the world. All you have to do is to look back at your time as a toddler when you did dramatic things such as learning to walk, to speak, to sing and many other jumps.

Although all my professional life I have benn with the same agency (no jumps there, to be honest) the start, at least, was a jump.

At 6pm on November 9, 1989, E was watching CNN in my dormitory in North Carolina, when , far away, the Berline Wall crumbled.

I called Thomas Heilmann, a friend and a student of law, and we decided to make a jump. We went to East Germany to establish one of the first independent communications companies in the disappearing communist world.

No money, no professional experience, no telephone, no office, no clients – no problem, as long as there is the opportunity to jump.

An outstanding ad always tells a story that involves the jump of an individual or a group. They do something first and surprise their readers and viewers.

Ask yourself: Could your idea be considered as new? If so, you are on the right path to touch people’s hearts and minds.

No news! That was the story for another campaign. No news is a jump for only one industry: the media.

The grassroots paper die tageszeitung was desperately look for subscribers. The paper, acclaimed for its irreverent headlines, was so broke that is could not even afford an ad campaign. However.

The editor, Bascha Mika, liked to jump. It was decided to show consumers what would be missed if the paper folded.

And that became a weekly event. Every week she blackmailed her readers: 300 new subscriptions were demanded by the end of the week, or the weekend edition would be published without something dear to the readers.

In most weeks more than 300 new subscribers were convinced. Occasionally, however, there were only 221 new readers, so the paper was published without any headlines. It turned out to be a collector’s edition that sold particularly well.

During that one summer, more that 5,000 new subscriptions were sold, far above expectation and without one single ad placed.

Successful communication ideas surprise people and make them than, or feel, anew. The more visual, the better.

What comes to your mind thinking about an insect repellent? Wouldn’t it be great if they turned you into a frog? Depicting consumers as a frog?

Pellit Jumped and got an ad that stands out. A friendly, human frog wearing a tie. “Make yourself unattractive,” he suggests.

A naïve look at traditional billboards columns gave birth to a campaign that uses the clichés of beauty to sell designer hats. The faces of beautiful women were placed without any addition on these columns.

The artfully crafted tops of the columns all of a sudden were seen as hats.
Communication scientists have identified a model that explains the law of jump academically.

Volker Trommsdorff, former president of the German Society of Advertising Science (one is not really surprised to find an institution like this in Germany) and noted marketing scholar, defined two contradictory effects in creative communication.

The effect of motivation is juxtaposed by the effect of difficulty. No difficulty means no motivation, just indifference. Too much difficulty, however, causes confusion.

The art of communication is to jump far enough that people get involved and still get the point the optimum.

Can advertisers jump too far? Yes, but it rarely happens. Compared with the bulk of advertising, which is both boring and unforgettable, eases of confusion seem negligible.

Imagine standing on a railway platform in – let’s say Berlin, and a locomotive slowly passes by.

Nothing motivating, yet. Imagine, however, that the train carries an ad saying “Not too bad – But have you ever been to the sate of Baden-Wurttemberg?”

This is how the federal state in southwestern Germany appealed to travelers. The lord mayor of Frankfurt got the message.

She ordered that the Frankfurt buses were not allowed to carry the ad any longer. Thank you for making the Baden-Wurttemberg buses move even more people.

By altering a well-known symbol just a little bit, Mercedes-Benz caught the eye of a very small target group.

The official sign for handicapped puts a wheel under the sitting individual. The ad turns it into a steering wheel and advertises “You are not handicapped,” as long as you drive a specially equipped Mercedes.

Mercedes crossed the border in using a symbol many mainstream brands would not dare to touch.

And they wee applauded by the handicapped for bringing their issue to a broader audience.

Another group that receives anything but public recognition are the drivers of heavy trucks. They slow down traffic and cause jams.

So wouldn’t the best ad space be billboards at traffic hot spots? Almost. The very best pace is the of the truck.

It allows the driver a small conversation about his job and his contribution to society in general and the driver behind in particular.

Mercedes-Benz offered trucker’s giant stickers cover the back of their lorries. The headlines are friendly explanations that every one understands: “As long as sausage cannot be sent by e-mail, we have the share the road,” And, “Of course I am slower than you.

I am carrying your red wine home.” Again, something new was done and received wide attention.

Over 1,000 trucks are continuing their participation two years after the imitative was launched.

For the sister brand of Mercedes, the tiny smart cars, the conventional wisdom of brochures was put aside. Smart cars are so small that two can easily park in the space required by a regular car.

This inspired the unique design for a brochure. The regular format can be separated into two smaller, identical brochures, One to keep, one to give away to a friend.
The campaign for Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung violated everything one may have learned in art school about celebrity campaigns.

A campaign that jumps right at the optimum spot of perception breaks the rule of testimonial advertising and can involve heads of government, world renowned writer, artists and celebrities.

The celebrities are not see. A small printed headline reads “There is always a clever mind behind it.”

Super model Nadja Auermann, movie director Billy Wilder, statesman Helmut Kohl and the like were asked to pose for a photograph that covers their face with a newspaper!

The viewers of the ad are invited to guess who is hidden. Only a small by-line uncovers the secret.

Among giraffes, the long-legged beauty Nadja is reading, in the middle of the Hollywood sign Billy Wilder reads, Cardinal Karl, Lehmann reads in a flock of sheep, and on a giant ship named Europe the champion of European Union, Helmut KohI, takes a break and reads the paper.

The campaign received more free media than paid-for ad space. It made headline news over and over. Museums are collecting it, and the circulation of the paper has surpassed 400,000 copies for the first time.

One of Germany’s most talked about ads features the CEO of Deutsche Bank, Hilmar Kopper.

In a press conference, he made a remark that has haunted him ever since. In a giant real estate break up, he called the unpaid bills of some handymen “Peanuts.”

An outcry rocked the media. Isn’t this evidence of the cold arrogance of corporate fat cats?

Listening to a speech of his on banking issues, an idea came to my mind. Why not ask him to participate in a campaign.

The picture: He is sitting on a mountain of peanuts. Mr. Kopper showed good humour. When approached he laughed and said: “Why not?”

As soon as his schedule coincided with the peanut harvest, a picture was taken in Georgia (close to plaines, by the way).

A symbol of corporate power pokes fun at himself, bringing his own gaffe into an advertising picture.

Kopper made a giant jump hardly anyone had expected, possible for a top executive from one of the largest banks in the would.

Through this unexpected ad, he turned his image around. Even his hardest critics, the media, heralded his sense of humour and shed a friendly light one the banker.

The law of jump involves everybody: the creatives, strategists, clients, celebrities, the media and, of course, the public. It’s easy to apply.

You’ll know when you’ve crossed the line from stepping to jumping. Your audience will, too.

Jump and enjoy!

Keywords: advertising, ad, ads, campaigns, jump, advertisers,


58 Comments so far ↓

Leave a Comment