April 15, 2009

Just give it a second.

We don't have cable at home. Not because I'm anti-TV or spending my free time doing activities that are highly productive or anything. More like a combination of me being too cheap and liking TV way to much to risk having 300 channels to choose from.

But anyway.

My tech-savvy Art Director brings me in downloads of Lost every few weeks so I can get my fill. And as I sat watching the latest episode last night--fork stopped halfway to mouth--it hit me. Why I like this dang show so very, very much.

It's subtle. Like Monty Python subtle, but without the Spanish Inquisition.

Guy 1 passed guy 2 a book. It was a blip on the screen, no more. And guy 1 didn't say "Here, take [NAME OF BOOK]." and guy 2 didn't respond "Oh, thank you for [NAME OF BOOK}." The camera didn't dive in on a close up or shine a spotlight on the cover. In fact, I had to rewind and play/pause to just the right second to read the title--and just barely.


The whole series is like that: paced, tense, dropping small clues and incomprehensible flashbacks that--slowly, slowly--make sense. The writers presume their viewers are smart. That we can add 2 and 2 together all by ourselves. That we don't want to know everything right now, plain as day, in a hurry. We're patient. We like to peer into the dark and around corners.

We want our ah-ha moments. And, good lord, do we get them.

Smart advertising should do the same--intrigue, compel, entice. It should make you think, take a step, meet the maker half way. Because that lovely ah-ha moment is mind blowing. The moment your reader gets it--figures out the little trap you've set, connected all the dots--they feel good. They feel smart. They feel gratified.

Too much advertising is like Monday Night Network Comedy. There's a reason Lost has survived as long and as successfully as it has.


  1. I follow a couple ad-type blogs for a sense of kinship, entertainment as well as education.(believe it or not). I currently don't work in this industry, but would like to repursue it. I don't currently have any creeds or philosophy associated to advertising of my own, but this post gave me my own ah-ha moment. Thanks for this one, I needed to read that today.

  2. No problem, jeaves. Glad my ramblings had a sunny side for you!