What I call the disturbing element is one detail (or more) that just doesn't fit. But, at first, the viewer does not consciously notice the mis-fit. Instead he or she just feels uneasy, without realizing what's causing it. Most people don't look more closely, as you will. Let me show you a brief example. What if the third sentence had said: "Instead she or he just feels uneasy, without realizing what's causing it."

Notice that reading the 'she' first, instead of the 'he' will cause a moment of unease in many readers, because they don't EXPECT the 'she' to come first. That's an example of a small detail that, in an ad, could be a disturbing element. It would cause a heightened, but defocused sense of alertness, like a moment of hypnosis.

Notice, it is alertness without awareness. That heightened moment of alertness without awareness is a key element that advertisers want to build into those few seconds of exposure to a magazine ad.

Having such a reaction, many are left with what psychologists call a lack of closure., a feeling that something's missing. Closure feels like nothing is missing. Nothing is left to be noticed. Closure allows you to feel ease and so put something in storage, out of your (conscious) mind.

However, lack of closure, a lack of completeness, haunts you, brings things back to mind--again and again. That tells you how valuable lack of closure in ads can be.

Closure is the sense that everything fits, no loose ends--completion. Case closed. Closure calms and reassures. Lack of closure always leaves that psychological door hanging open--a story with a missing middle, or no ending.

There are real-life examples of NO closure. The murder of the little 'beauty queen' Jon-Benet Ramsey, with no official suspect and no-one arrested, tried and punished. All loose ends. The same with the car-crash death of Princess Diana. For several years the O.J. Simpson murder case offered no closure--and for some people, even after two trials, there still is no closure. The story seems unending. They don't FEEL they have the whole answer yet.


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