In previous articles we were comparing a communicating campaign to the process of seducing, since there is a similar task — to conquer the audience. By conquering we mean enchanting people, forming affection, making them fall in love with you (your project). Capturing the audience’s positive attention, growing their interest, taking a place in their heart, using the whole arsenal of tools. There are many of them, but we will consider the most effective ones. Beauty. Surprise. Riddle. Game. Imagination. Humor. Emotions. Immixture
By the way, about capturing attention: this is our Art Director as a Cat Woman on the picture.
1. BEAUTY. THE ENCHANTMENT OF THE HEART
— The instant wherein that supreme quality of beauty, the clear radiance of the esthetic image,
is apprehended luminously by the mind which has been arrested by its wholeness
and fascinated by its harmony is the luminous silent stasis of esthetic pleasure,
a spiritual state very like to that cardiac condition which the Italian physiologist
Luigi Galvani called the enchantment of the heart. — James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Paradoxical as it sounds, especially given our commitment to deep meanings, but the most important thing is beauty. If to look at beauty in its classical understanding and psychological meaning, it is something harmonious.
‘Attractive, appealing’ are often used as synonyms for ‘beautiful’ and these words perfectly describe the mechanism: beauty attracts and appeals. Literally, causes the desire to approach it, possess it, to merge with it, take communion at least for a little while; to feel worthy, equal, eligible. We strive to have what we like, to get close to it, to become a part of it — this is the appeal of beauty.
Therefore, your task is to appear attractive for your audience. At many levels, but primarily on the visual and semantic ones. It starts with the image: logo, name, visuals, meanings and messages that you transmit. The task of the communication strategy is ‘to radiate beauty’ that would attract people and evoke the desire to become a part of it, of your project — to buy a ticket and come over. Beauty is certainly subjective and in the eye of beholder, and each TA has its own beauty standards, however there are universal criterias for beauty, one for all: harmony, might, charisma.
— The aesthetic experience is a simple beholding of the object…
you experience a radiance. You are held in aesthetic arrest.
This radiance, the perception of beauty, is regarded as a communication
of the hidden power behind the world, shining through some physical form. — Joseph Campbell in his lectures on Joyce
— Beauty is the promise of happiness. — Stendhal
If you think about that formula, this can also be about accessibility. Beauty must transmit the hypothetical possibility of possessing it in reality, to dream about it, strive for it, and get it and be happy. This is a promise.
Many marketologists creating campaigns targeting an elite and not so elite audience, tend to flirt with exclusivity, coldness and inaccessibility. But a beautiful unapproachable girl can be very lonely, you know. The reason why Marilyn Monroe became an object of desire of billions men on this planet is — she had a very warm and kind beauty, she was very playful, very tender — like, ‘you too can make her benevolent’. She was an embodied promise of happiness.
In our opinion, the cold elitism is contrary to the idea of a charismatic large-scale event. If you want to find response in maximum number of hearts, the beauty of your project should be accessible. It should not make people feel it is something far beyond their level, it should be a warm open type of beauty that can be reached and touched, well, maybe with certain efforts.
There is a harmful myth about charisma: many people think that it is some kind of a mysterious thing that some people are lucky to born with, but majority aren’t. But charisma both of a person and a brand is not a mysterious innate quality, but a combination of two things: beauty (in the sense we talked above: harmony, might, magnificence, status, relevance) and accessibility, warmth and openness. The most charismatic people you can recall are people whose status is high, whose achievements are great, but at the same time they seem very down to earth, very open, warm, easy, friendly — everyone can approach them and communicate. Your project should have same virtues: to be very cool, in demand, and at the same time — very humane one and heartfelt.
There is a harmful myth about charisma: many people think that charisma is some kind of a mysterious thing, some people are lucky to be born with, but majority aren’t. The charisma of man and brand is not a mysterious innate quality, but a combination of two things: beauty (in the sense we talked above: harmony, might, magnificence, status, relevance) and accessibility, warmth and openness. The most charismatic people you can recall are the people whose status in society is very high, whose achievements are great, but at the same time they seem very down to earth, very open, warm, easy, friendly — everyone can approach them and communicate. your project should have same virtues: to be very steep, in demand, and at the same time humane one, heartfelt.
Accessible beauty of your project can be realized through involving the audience — in a form of volunteering, playing, crowdsourcing and co-creation, where you give the audience the privilege to generate content and a value — and take it with gratitude, as if it’s you are privileged to use it. The only nuance: in order people would love to participate in your project, it has to be great and beautiful — not something that tries to exploit other people’s resources, talents and work.
No doubt that the most effectively this idea is being realized by Burning Man festival. The project is stunning, attractive and humanine — and its audience is deeply involved in generating this stunning beauty and the project’s values.
3. IMAGINATION AND DREAMS
These deserve to be at the first place in the list, because the main tool you are working with, the tool meant to create new worlds and realms is human imagination, and what it is unseparably connected with — dreams. The whole story you narrate as a director, constructor of an event or communication strategy, unfolds in people’s minds. You should play with it, to feed the people’s imagination — but never overfeed, giving small pieces and always leaving it hungering for more.
In order not to sound too abstract, let’s consider some case from our practice. Here, in this video presenatation of the Kazantip Republic festival created for Ibiza Music Summit 2011, you can see the essence of the project’s entire communication strategy, compressed into 4 minutes.
Pay attention to how the communication with the audience was built. It’s the project’s total identification with the audience. There is no contradistinction ‘there are a project and its audinece‘ — the project IS the audience. It owes its existence to the people. There is the small imaginary Republic of Kazantip, there is the small President, and there is the Great Nation (really ‘Imagi-Nation). The main effort was to make people believe that they are the Great Nation of a non-existent state, that the world existing in their imagination is more beautiful, kind and fair, than the real one. The mission was to let people fulful and realise themselves in a best way possible, to give them causes to be great and believe in themselves as in truly The Great Nation.
The massive success of the project (22 years and 2.5 millions visitors from all around the world) was definded by the big amount of people who got involved into this game and together generated a huge immaterial value of the project. And this is, for sure, a large scale roleplay game (or a storytelling game), another great illustrative example of which is, again, Burning Man, one of the most creative enterprise based on the similar idea of an alternative world. Both project were aiming to be not just an event, ‘more than a festival’, so they became it – a life changing experience. This is what happens when you effectively collaborate with your audience’s imagination. The result can be astounding.
4. A RIDDLE. WRAPPED IN A MYSTERY, INSIDE AN ENIGMA
— Mystery has energy, It pour energy into whoever seeks the answer to it.
If you disclose the solution to the mystery you are simply depriving
the other seekers of an important source of energy. — John Fowles, The Magus
Again: to capture attention means to make a person think about something for a some time, to direct their attention there. And the more time and attention we give something, the more we get attached to it — this is how a human psyche works like, so you must learn to manage the audience’s attention. A puzzle, a riddle, is one of the most powerful tools for keeping attention and stirring the interest. If you build your communication in such a way that from time to time some question arise on the audience’s way, they are forced to look for the answers. ‘What does it mean? What’s next? What was it? How will it end?” — these questions should move your story forward in accordance with the principles of drama, and move your TA closer to you, closer and closer, in the hope to get answers. Like Hans and Gretel they will go after the crumbs that you lay out and that will lead them wherever you need. Into a kind of cool trap in the form of an event.)
If there is no intrigue and mystery in the communication that people would want to unravel, no secrets that they would love to possess — then there’s, most likely, no magic in your story, only pure technique and mechanics. Neither bad, nor anything special.
5. SINCERITY, EMOTIONS
Following the quest, looking for solutions to your puzzles, the audience must discover some answers. Not all, but some. These answers may consist of very simple, but real things — like emotions. Different ones: ambitious, funny, sad, deep and superficial. Each group of your audience are humans with some actual and sensitive topics, like age, origin, gender, sexuality, happiness, self-realization. Empathy will help you to understand the whole gamut of feelings of your audience. You can and should talk to them about serious stuff — not about joyful things only, for life is not an endless happening. You should be open, sincere and tender in order to shorten the distance, come closer and touch the heart of your audience. Sharing emotions, talking about what excites, inspire and bothers people and yourself, you form friendship and intimacy, and this is priceless.
— Great realtionship thrive in learning, anticipation, and surprise.
When you know everything there is to know, there is nothing left to discover.
No more wonder, no more opportunities. No more relationships. — Kevin Roberts, Lovemarks
Surprise, be unpredictabile, break cliches, change the trajectory, do what is not expected of you, overturn forecasts and expectations, create dissonance, play on contrasts, be different — construct situations that make people hold their breath and freeze in amazement. ‘Ah!’ — there are nothing more vivid and attractive, than things that give the sense of wonderment.
Humor is amongst the most, most, most effective attention-capturing tools. To make a person laugh is the best way to open their ‘shell’ up, get their positive attention and build a warm soulful connection. We’d say that ‘humor and self-irony is a must have of any communications. If you take yourself too serious and are being too pretentious — watch your steps, it’s easy to fall into a pitfall. But if you find yourself in a trouble but still are able get out of the situation with humor, you will get extra scores from your audience.
There was a long time tradition of finding a new anthem every year. This was crowdsourcing in action that allowed us to create a newsmaker and a creative communication with massive feedback; to involve a lot of DJs & producers in the race, and dozens of thousands of spectators to watch the show and vote. During the contest we could recieve up to 3-7K of musical compositions annually, but there were usually a very few gems (this is the problem of crowdsourcing). That particular year we’d reviewed 3.5K tracks, even created a short list, but eventually could not choose anything — nothing was worth the anthem status. But we could not NOT to choose anything neither — after a few months of the contest critics, spectators and creators would tear us to pieces.
So we’d made a twist: we decided not choose, if we dont like any track. But since our attitude had always been ‘do not criticize — make it better’, we’d decided to write our own anthem. We had created The Governmental Garage Band, written the lyrics, sung and played it, shot a video and presented at the major music channels. The news about our Something of an Anthem was controversial and provoked a lot of hype. The Garage Band made a hilarious performace during the festival’s Opening Ceremony at the main stage, and thousands people were chanting the chorus along with us.
In the lyrics of this timeless piece, lol, we (again) gave away the secrets of our communication strategy and its principles — well, in a bantering postmodernish manner. Here it is, in the nutshell: If you have a strong national idea, if you have already worked well with the audience, then you can make her sing just anything, literally anything — even meaningless ‘blah-blah-blah’.
The last powerful tool we’d like to mention, that holds and sums up everything listed above is a game. A game is a challenge, a duel, a competition, an attraction, it is exciting by its nature. A game is creativity, spontaneity, imagination. It is always a parallel reality with own rules that carries people away. A game is a mystery. Emotions. Involvement. Surprises. Irony and humor. A good game is the most reliable way to make your audience fall in love with your project. Sometimes all what you have to do well is to play, frolic and fool around.