The First Step Toward Persuasion is Getting Someone’s Attention – The Idea Behind those Quiet John Hancock Commercials

In my classes (I teach speech) I teach that persuasion is to change someone’s mind, attitude, or behavior.  Of course, I can never change anyone’s mind, attitude, or behavior.  And neither can anyone else.  The best we can do is to provide the message so that an individual can change his or her own mind, attitude, or behavior.

And persuasion is the whole ball game.  In a marriage, in a family, in a job, in sales and marketing, I am always trying to get the other person (my wife, my children, my boss, my customer) to agree with me.

You may have noticed – we have a lot of messages thrown our way.  A whole lot.  And the message clutter is perpetually overwhelming.  Getting someone to pay attention to “my message” over the noise of all the other messages is a great step toward persuasion.  But this is no small task.

Quiet in the midst of noise -- from John Hancock

Which is why this is really interesting. has an article about those quiet, understated John Hancock ads: Soft Sell:  Why quiet, understated TV ads are so effective by Seth Stevenson.

These ads have been airing for almost two years now. They continue to be the quietest moments you’ll find anywhere on television (save for the occasional CBS Sunday Morning segment consisting solely of static wheat-field footage). “The reality is that very few people only watch TV today—they watch while they’re reading a magazine, looking at email, or answering a text,” says Jim Bacharach, vice president of brand communications for John Hancock. “What we have found, and confirmed in our tracking studies, is that the quiet of our ads makes people lift their heads and look up.”

Getting someone to look up, to listen, is a great first step.  And until that happens, persuasion is simply impossible.

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