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Bang! Getting Your Message Heard in a Noisy World. Linda Kaplan Thaler, Robin Koval, Delia Marshall. Doubleday. 256 pages
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Originally published on Monday, October 27, 2003 in The Miami Herald.

Hey you! Pay attention!

If only it were that easy. For advertising, the challenge is attracting eyes, ears and imaginations to inspire purchases. But in a world of competing messages, cutting through the clutter is nearly impossible. Now more than ever we are inured to most advertising, yet somehow ads do get through to their target audience and are effective. They are remembered, discussed, and even move merchandise. How is this alchemy possible?

There have been a number of recent books advising marketers in these endeavors, including Seth Godin's Purple Cow and Mark Stevens' Your Marketing Sucks, but it has always been tough creating ads that work. It's harder now, since customers' time and attention is severely diffused and limited.
Advertising executives Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, aided by writer Delia Marshall, contribute a bright, breezy, but deadly serious guide to creating a buzz -- and a bang. They possess more credibility than many other authors; their agency is responsible for some of the most impressive, high-impact ads seen in recent years: Clairol's Herbal Essence Shampoo, AFLAC Insurance, Toys R Us, the Red Cross and more.

And how does one make effective ads?

They write: ``According to The Economist magazine, people see over 3,000 messages each day but, like cooked spaghetti, only a couple of them stick to the wall. As a result, no one is sitting on the edge of his or her seat waiting to hear what you have to say. You need to disrupt the established paradigm to get through. Edward De Bono, the father of lateral thinking, noted that problem solving involves abandoning accepted, logical thought processes and rearranging and reevaluating the status quo. You must forget about what makes sense and open yourself up to the real reason why a particular brand or product is appealing. Great, explosive marketing or advertising ideas will only rise to the surface when everyone at the company is able to reject what worked in the past and embrace this kind of counterintuitive thinking.''
In other words, emotion beats logic, and a product or service's true ''Unique Selling Proposition'' is often counter to what the company thinks it is. The smart solution is not always the obvious one (and it's sometimes the dumbest one imaginable).

This is not entirely new; advertising guru David Ogilvy would surely agree with much of what they say. Rather, Thaler and Koval adapt many of the strongest, most basic principles of marketing and promotion to modern media realities and aesthetics, and they provide plenty of anecdotes and examples to make the journey a pleasant one.

Can you apply their approach specifically to your business? Perhaps, but even if you can't, their freewheeling and challenging notions will surely stimulate your own thoughts, and you may come up with your own marketing eruption.

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