Grabbing attention is a fundamental of advertising, but that doesn’t mean you don’t still need uncertainty.
For the recent refurbishment of the sun lounge and southwest terrace in the Toppled Bollard, a substantial sum of money was donated by the National Uncertainty Foundation Fund which is based at Rutland’s world famous University of Certain Things.
This was typical of the generosity of the Uncertainty Foundation which, of course, left everyone involved unsure as to whether the gift would be granted until somewhat after the very last minute.
Naturally, as something of an aficionado in the world of uncertainty I was invited to make the keynote speech on the occasion of the opening of the lounge which I did by announcing to everyone who was present that, “A screaming comes across the sky”.
No sooner had I said that phrase than there was silence in the room. I let the silence linger until a round of applause broke out.
Eventually a member of the select gathering said, “Why is everyone clapping? What on earth does this mean?”
I held up my hand for silence. “I have no idea what any of it means,” I said, “But I like the phrase, and I suspect you will recall that sentence and this moment for some time to come - far more than if I had said, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the opening of the Sun Lounge and Southwest Terrace. As for the phrase, it is the opening line of the novel ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’.”
“Then why do you like the phrase, if you don’t know what it means?” demanded my questioner.
“Because,” I replied, “it just about beats, “One summer afternoon Mrs. Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue,” which used to be my favourite opening line.
And my point was, of course, with all advertising, you must work hard to grab attention. You cannot assume your audience will be interested in what you say, but what you can be sure is that if you don’t get attention at the start, you won’t get it later on.