The Beat

22 Apr

laughingHave you ever learned another language? If you have, you’ve likely noticed something interesting when it comes to hearing jokes in that other language. A joke that would seem quite obvious or juvenile in English gets you laughing when you hear it in French. Advertising suggests an answer to that phenomenon.

An obvious joke in English isn’t funny because you immediately get it – the punchline is expected. You don’t have to invest any thought in understanding it. Hear it in French, and (unless you’re fluent) you have to spend a little time with it, work the words and meaning through, and understand the irony of the punchline. You laugh because you’ve invested a moment of time and thought in the joke, and it’s paid off by that ‘a-ha’ moment.

In advertising, Creative Directors refer to that length of time as a ‘beat’. Too short, and the message is too obvious – people tune it out. Too long, and people give up – they don’t get it. Finding that sweet spot in between will reward you with an engaged audience who have connected with the message and feel the pay-off it is designed for them to have.

Successful communication – like so many other things – is all about timing.

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