The Optics of Advertising

I recently had a little lesson in the power of visuals in advertising.

I had knee surgery, and was surprised to learn - afterwards - that I would not be allowed to walk at all on that leg for 4-6 weeks.  This required some fast re-arranging of my life.  Hobbling on the other leg with crutches or a walker quickly produced more collateral damage than I found acceptable.  I realized I needed some kind of mobilized transport.

I picked up a used 2-wheeled electric Razor scooter, a model with a seat.  It's about a yard long, and can maneuver around in the house reasonably well, but it looks like a toy.  Standing on one leg, I can just manage to lift it into the back seat of my car.  However, I was concerned about going abroad with it, specifically, about being thrown out of stores if I tried to ride it inside.  Would I look like a person with a disability and a legitimate reason to ride into Home Depot?  Or would I look like an arrested-adolescent joyrider, worthy of the disapproving sniff, or perhaps even the bum's rush?

I decided it was an advertising problem.  It needed the quality that all good advertising needs in the information-overload age: The Fast Read.  I needed to convey to store personnel and other shoppers - at first sight - that I wasn't stepping over the line, because I couldn't walk.

I took off one shoe.

(I was wearing white socks that first day, which made it even better.)

When I rolled into OSH, two employees parted before me like they were auditioning for the roll of The Red Sea in the remake of The Ten Commandments.  One of them blurted, "Nice!"

(I might add that when I go places with a walker but wearing both shoes, I get some doubtful looks.  Which is to say, ineffective advertising can hurt your credibility.)

Effective advertising talks about the one thing that's most worth saying, and finds a way to say it with maximum efficiency.  Often, that is visually.   Sometimes, it's just a few words.  A single ad can't carry the whole sales pitch; it's the all-important foot in the door, where the sales pitch can begin.  Pick the right thing to say, and the best way to say it.