Wednesday, January 20, 2021
We writers tend to read a lot. And we’re always happy to suggest those books that most impacted our writing.
Ask a copy or content writer about favorite book and they’ll list off half a dozen before you’ve finished asking. Don’t be surprised if the name Ernest Hemingway is on the list.
Hemingway gave this list to aspiring writer Arnold Samuelson in 1934 with the instructions:
Here’s a list of books any writer should have read as a part of his education… If you haven’t read these, you just aren’t educated. They represent different types of writing. Some may bore you, others might inspire you and others are so beautifully written they’ll make you feel it’s hopeless for you to try to write.
The Blue Hotel - Stephen Crane
The Open Boat - by Stephen Crane
Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
Dubliners - James Joyce
The Red and the Black - Stendhal
Of Human Bondage - W. Somerset Maugham
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
Buddenbrooks - Thomas Mann
Hail and Farewell - George Moore
The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Oxford Book of English Verse
The Enormous Room - E.E. Cummings
Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë
Far Away and Long Ago - W.H. Hudson
The American - Henry James
Interestingly, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, the book that Hemingway referred to as “the best book an American ever wrote,” was not on the list.
So how many of the books on Hemingway’s list have you read? Would he have considered you educated?
Thursday, January 14, 2021
We’re hard-wired to respond positively to groups of three.
People who study these things tell us that three elements get a message across best, indicating that the brain remembers things easier if they are grouped into threes. Basically, our brain process information by seeking patterns, and three is the smallest number of pieces required to make a pattern.
In design, odd numbers are considered to be more attractive and effective. Typically, we see one as not enough, and five, seven or more as too much. Three allows us to find the center point. That's why you'll see the rule of three everywhere from photography to architecture to interior design.
As a writer, this rule of three is important to remember whether you are writing a story or a slogan.
Writers create patterns with words. It helps us be organize information and be concise. It helps our audience understand and remember our messages. It can help the reader take action.
Think about it ... nobody's ever said "second time's the charm" or talks about the two musketeers. Doesn't the genie always offer 3 wishes when released from the lamp?
When Julius Caesar announced his victory he said, "Veni, vidi, vici." He didn't say, "I came and I conquered." He said, "I came. I saw. I conquered." The rule of three helped the message stick.
And it's not just Julius Caesar.
Abraham Lincoln: "We can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground."
Winston Churchill: "Never in the history of human endeavor has so much been owed by so many to so few."
Barack Obama: "We must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America."
Dale Carnegie: 'Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you just told them.”
Writers will tell you the same thing:
“Trios may or may not be more persuasive, but they can create a sense of poetry and rhythm, making our content more pleasurable to read and adding stress to a statement.” - Henneke Duistermaat
"If you want something stuck in someone's head, put it in a sequence of three." - Brian Clark
"A piece of writing has to start somewhere, go somewhere, and sit down when it gets there. You do that by building what you hope is an unarguable structure. Beginning, middle, end." - John McPhee"As a communications coach, I strongly recommend using the ‘Rule of 3’ in all areas of communications: marketing, pitches, and presentations." - Carmine Gallo
You'll apply it in marketing writing:
For copywriters: Problem. Agitate. Solve.
Nothing more needs to be said.
Except, I'm gonna take it too far, with way too many more examples to lock it in your head that the rule of three is a thing. A thing that works. And that's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. See what I did there?
On your mark, Get set, Go!
gold, silver, bronze
3 strikes, yer OUT!
snap, crackle, pop3 periods of time (past, present, future)3 StoogesBacon, Lettuce, TomatoFather, Son, and Holy Spirit3 Amigos3 primary colors of light (red, green, blue)3 Little PigsLife, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness3 blind mice3 witches3 wise men (Magi)The Pep Boys (Manny, Moe, Jack)3 color tone properties (hue, saturation, brightness)The good, the bad, and the uglyMe, myself, and IThree's CompanyGovernment of the people, by the people, for the people.Huey, Dewey, and LouieFaith, Hope, and CharityCharlie's Angels (Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, and Kate Jackson)location, location, locationFuturama (Fry, Leela, and Bender)Friends, Romans, CountrymenFerris Bueller's Day Off (Ferris, Cameron , Sloane)3 astronomical bodies that have a direct effect on our lives (Sun, Moon, Earth)Star Trek (Kirk, Spock, McCoy)3 persons in grammar [1st person (I/we), 2nd (you), 3rd (he/she/it/they)]The Powerpuff Girls (Blossom, Bubbles, Buttercup)blood, sweat, and tearsThe Chipmunks (Alvin, Simon, Theodore)3 main constituents of air (nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide)The Three Gryffindors (Harry, Ron, Hermione)Breakfast, Lunch (Dinner), Dinner (Supper)Three coins in the fountainTigers, lions and bears (oh my!)3 French Hens3 sheets to the windThe three bearsanimal, vegetable and mineralShrek, Fiona, DonkeyColumbus’ ships (the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria)Yakko, Wakko, and DotLiberté, égalité, fraternitéStop, Look, and ListenStop, Drop, and Roll
Faster, Higher, Stronger (Citius, Altius, Fortius)
Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh (the triad of gods in Hindu mythology)
Freud - Id, Ego, Super Ego
Dante’s Divine Comedy - Paradise, Purgatory, and HellMind, Body, Spirit
And, to end on an intellectual note:
3 qualities of the universe (time, space, matter)3 laws of motion (Newton’s laws)3 laws of planetary motion (Kepler’s laws)3 major branches of chemistry (physical, inorganic, organic)3 spatial dimensions: height (up/down), width (left/right) and depth (forwards/backwards)3 types of particles in the atom (protons, neutrons and electrons)
Thursday, January 7, 2021
This "Aaron Burr" spot is the first commercial to run in the "Got Milk?" campaign. It aired nationwide on October 29, 1993 and was directed by Michael Bay before he became an A-list Hollywood film maker.
Not only was "Aaron Burr" celebrated with advertising industry awards in 1994, but in 2002, a USA Today poll voted it as one of the top 10 commercials of all time.
It was the first of a series of commercials featuring people with a mouthful of dry or sticky foods requiring milk. One commercial questioned the concept of Heaven and Hell.
The campaign was created by the advertising agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners (San Francisco) for the California Milk Processor Board to encourage the consumption of milk. It was underwritten by dairy farmers contributing 15-cents from every hundredweight of milk (about $13.50). It was later licensed for use by milk processors and dairy farmers.
The national campaign, run by MilkPEP (Milk Processor Education Program) included the national TV campaign, and added the "got milk?" logo to its "Milk Mustache" ads beginning in 1995.
Was the campaign a success?
At the time, faced with stiff competition with deep pockets, such as Coke, Pepsi, Gatorade, Snapple, and Evian, milk sales were dropping at about 3% a year. The campaign increased awareness to 91%, but "Got Milk?" didn't increase milk sales. It did, however, stabilize sales, so many people feel it was a success.
Is the campaign still running?
In 2014, MilkPEP discontinued its Milk Mustache and "Got Milk? advertisements, replacing it with a "Milk Life" campaign. The "Got Milk?" campaign has since run in California and the "Got Milk" trademark has been licensed to food and merchandise companies for U.S. and international sales.
Although, milk consumption had been on a downward trend (declining about 2% to 2.5% annually) in recent years, lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic turned sales around. According to Nielsen, sales of cow’s milk increased almost 12% April-July 2020 from the same period in 2019.
In August 2020, MilkPEP revived the “Got Milk?” campaign as TV and digital ads showcasing user-generated social media videos of everyday people — and stars like US Olympian Katie Ledecky — using milk in creative ways.
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