Millions of years worth of geology, natural history and physics stretched before us. We thrilled at the sight. Our guide held us rapt with his description of the powerful forces attested by the wonder at our feet.
Until, that is, someone spied a speck on the Colorado River about a mile below. “There’s a boat!” he called out. Canyon and tour guide were instantly forgotten as heads and binoculars turned to the speck. The group debated what kind of boat it was, how many people were in it, were they fishing, and could you see what they were wearing.
The guide and I looked at each other, helpless. There was no getting the crowd’s attention back. They were busy trying to make out the logo on the hat the guy in the front of the boat was wearing.
The communication lesson is that people are easily distracted. And once they are, you won’t get them back.
When you write and design an ad, every detail must be designed to get readers where you want them. The slightest extraneous detail has the power to send them irretrievably off in the wrong direction.
Good ad writers and designers resist the urge to add words or elements just because “they’re cool.” Just as a speck of a boat can take a crowd’s attention from the world-famous, awe-inspiring, majestic sight they traveled thousands of miles to see, any device that doesn’t actively contribute to your advertising objective has the potential to undo it.