advertising, broadcasting, planning, viewing

Conventional blinkering; how Visa’s Mystery Box was closed too soon

back in January I posted on JJ Abrams idea of Mystery Boxes; that the intentional withholding of information is much more engaging than giving someone the whole story… that sometimes mystery is more important than
knowledge.  I suggested that in comunications planning we’re too obsessed with giving consumers
information and resolution…  instead we need to more often give them some questions, some

I was reminded of this thinking recently when I caught the above ad for Visa.  it opens with a big fat mystery box; a panicked guy running naked thru a desert.  how come he’s there?  why’s he naked?  where’s he running to?  lots of questions… which in short mean you keep on watching the ad.

it’s a great ad, but it could have been a lot braver with it’s media…  why did they have to give the whole thing away in 30 seconds?  they could have top and tailed it – extending the mystery box across the ad break or even across a whole TV show.  and if they’d been really brave, they could have teased the ad for a week without showing the resolution.

by resolving the mystery box so soon, Visa have missed out on sparking a multitude of conversations, roughly around the theme of "why’s man running naked thru the desert with nothing but a Visa card?"

a great ad which missed out on being a brilliant piece of
communication because it played to the conventions of a TV spot…  conventions are there for a reason, but sometimes they’re there to be broken…


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