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In a Nutshell

Something as unexpected as a talking almond could be just what you need to catch the reader's eye.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the July 2004 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Is it too fanciful to have products "talk" in print advertising? Will prospects take it seriously when you show dialogue balloons coming from component parts or, in the case shown here, from food pieces? The answers are, it is neither too fanciful nor taken less seriously. Giving human qualities to inanimate objects-otherwise known as anthropomorphism-offers fresh relief from ordinary advertising. And it opens up lots of interesting promotional possibilities that might not otherwise get attention.

In the ad shown here, produced for the Almond Board of California, an industry trade group, a couple of nuts speak out about their nutritional benefits. The first thing that grabs you is the visual: little white copy balloons popping out of the brown background of nuts. You can't help but notice them as you're flipping through the periodical. That's a huge hurdle to overcome, because up to 70 percent of ads are not visually arresting enough to stop the reader.

The second grabber is what the nuts are saying. One says, "Eating a handful of us a day can help lower cholesterol." The other adds, "Sounds nutty, but it's true." Well, no, it doesn't sound nutty, but we'll permit the copywriter a pun. The next thing you may notice is the big headline above: "Here's some good news about almonds you can really take to heart." This is a solid headline because it piques your curiosity, even though you probably read the copy balloons first. The paragraph copy at the bottom of the ad almost doesn't matter because all you really need to know is in the headline and balloons.

What makes this approach so worthy of consideration for your own advertising is that it's versatile enough to work for practically any product or service. Last month, I wrote about a vacuum cleaner promotion. Guess what? Vacuum cleaners can speak for themselves. As can silicon chips, C-size batteries or two peas in a pod. A couple of bicuspids can speak to the quality of the dentist who capped them. Or how about a comparison ad in which your widget explains why it's better than the competitor's version right next to it? And let's not forget service businesses. What about one air-conditioning service van speaking to another, to wit: "We offer 24/7 emergency service at no extra charge; how about you?" Says the other: "No comment."

The possibilities are endless, and there can be many creative approaches. But the best part about this technique is that it's attention-getting and makes your big sales points quick as a wink. So, safe to say, it's not a nutty idea at all.

Jerry Fisher ( is a freelance advertising copywriter and author of Creating Successful Small Business Advertising.

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