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Talking Heads

Your prospects may be all grown-up, but comic-book-style word balloons still make them stop and stare.

By Jerry Fisher

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Few readers can pass by an image of a person, cartoon characteror animal with a word balloon or caption above its head and notpause to read it. No matter the format, be it an ad or an article,we're very likely going to stop-if only for asecond-to see what the figures are saying. The reason? Ittakes us back to our early exposure to comic-book images, in whichthe frozen characters on the page "talk" this way. It wasa fun, easy and simple form of visual speech that brought inanimatecharacters to life and enabled us to connect with them.

Nowthat we're all grown-up, the device still has that same appeal,and, as a hook, it can beat the heck out of a disembodied headlineas a way to rope in the reader. That's certainly the case inthe ad shown here. Produced by Purina for its Tidy Cats cat-boxlitter, it depicts a family of felines chatting about bathroomissues. The ad gets an A+ on formatting, because one can't helpbut read the captions above the cats' heads for all the reasonsmentioned. But I'll be a little critical here and say thecompany missed an opportunity by having the cats make only cutesmall talk. ("Have you been using the litter box or the plant?. . . and DON'T lie to me . . . ")

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