Contrast Makes The World Go Round

Reinventing the Radio Format – the Jelli Model
August 12, 2011
The Four-Letter Word
August 19, 2011

Contrast Makes The World Go Round

Contrasting jelly bean stands outContrast is defined by my friends at as a verb used to “compare in order to show unlikeness or differences; note the opposite natures, purposes, etc.”  In other words, in this homogenized world, where we seem to be striving towards sameness in everything we do, it’s time to celebrate contrast.

Some would say variety is the spice of life…I say it’s contrast.  Variety is a nice enough word.  I guess.  I have no bias towards it.  But the minute you hear “contrast” you immediately start to compare what you are contrasting.  And that’s where the true magic of contrast comes into play, especially in advertising.

Pick a product …any product.  Toilet paper?  Lounge chairs?  Lawn mowers?  Snow shovels?  Coffee?  All toilet paper does the same thing (we hope anyway).  The same with all lounge chairs, lawn mowers, shovels, coffee, etc.  What makes one “better” than the next?

Why, the contrasts of course.

Brand X is cheaper/longer lasting/stronger than Brand Y.  Brand D is softer/firmer/safer than Brand F.  Brand G reduces cooking time by 75%…you get the idea.

So, what in the name of Merriam-Webster am I rambling about?

Bring contrast to your commercials.  Start with the copy and break the mold of a straight read.  Use a tough guy voice to emphasize the strength of your brand and a weak guy to be the competition.  Be authoritative to emphasize you know what you’re talking about, and have the competition hem and haw to show they don’t know as much.

As part of the listening/viewing/buying public, I say celebrate your contrasts.  And be sure to tell me what they are, over and over.  Tell me what makes your product special.  Why it will make me elite.  Who doesn’t want to be elite?  I have yet to meet that person.

After all, if it wasn’t for contrast we’d still be living like we did in the 70s, with No Name Beer, Cereal and Paper Towels.

Ian Cohen is Production Director at The Radio Agency. Please follow The Radio Agency’s Blog “Sounding Board” by subscribing to the RSS link above. Visit our website