The Vampire Effect: Do Your Messages Suck or Stick?

Have you ever seen a cool ad, but can’t recall what it’s actually for? You’re experiencing the Vampire Effect, a term coined after a study conducted by MediaAnalyzer Software & Research, which results concluded that attention-grabbing content—from sexy images to celebrity endorsements—was sucking attention away from what the ad was actually trying to say.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’re already familiar with SHARPs, a tool used to make complex messages more easily understood and memorable. Remember, SHARPs stands for Stories, Humor, Analogies, References and Pictures. We often talk about SHARPs as a way to make messages stick. Today, take a moment to consider if your SHARPs suck attention away from your Point of View.

The recent LifeLock ad campaign asks: “Why monitor a problem if you don’t fix it?” The “Dentist” spot features a patient receiving the diagnosis that he has the worst cavity they have ever seen. Without fixing the cavity, the dentist and hygienist break for lunch and leave the poor patient helpless in the dental chair with swabs and tubes hanging from his mouth. Yes, humor wins the battle for attention, but clever analogies win the war on understanding.

In a lot of ways, we’re all in the advertising game. Our everyday communication, whether talking to our clients, spouse or kids, are campaigns of connection and influence. Because SHARPs are so fun to use, it’s tempting to use them without too much thought or discipline. What makes the LifeLock ads, above, really land is how they connect. Distinguishing between “monitoring” and “fixing” identity theft is an intangible that’s hard for us consumers to care about with much urgency, until we imagine ourselves in the same situation.

Remember: grabbing attention isn’t the same as being effective. Hardwire SHARPs to your POV to shift from merely entertaining in the moment to having lasting influence and impact.

Can you think of another example of SHARPs in advertising?

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