On Tony Schwarz, groundbreaking communication and persuasion theorist, author of “The Responsive Chord” (Anchor Press, 1973), and creator of “Resonance Theory”:

“The latest buzzword in advertising these days is engagement. Tony certainly created some of the most engaging commercials of all time but there were instances where he did not want a fully engaged viewer. This except is from an article I wrote that will be in the International Journal of Digital TV in the Spring.

“In all of this research, there is an assumption that engagement is positive from an advertiser’s point of view. But is it always positive? Are people who are fully engaged with content not more able to assess and reject it than people who are only paying half attention?

The well-known advertising producer, Tony Schwartz, had another reason for not wanting a fully engaged audience. He argued that for products where there is little difference across brands in terms of quality or price, his goal was to develop familiarity with the product so when you came across the product in a store along with its competitors, and had no reason to choose one over the other, you would pick the product that was more familiar.

In commercials for such products he frequently showed a still picture of it for 30 seconds with positive emotional audio comments over it.

He didn’t want the audience to think about the product, just see it and associate it with positive emotions (Schwartz, 1973). Under this scenario, a half-engaged viewer is better than a fully engaged viewer.”

When was the last time you heard somebody set an advertising campaign goal of having: “A half-engaged viewer?”

Schwartz’s insights such as this one are often counter-intuitive and brilliant, and that’s why his work is so fascinating. It was done in the 70’s but it still resonates deeply today.

See the original Facebook comment – the source of this excerpt – below.

If you are interested in understanding persuasion from a more in-depth perspective than surface level tactics then I highly recommend reading “The Responsive Chord” by Tony Schwarz or reading any articles or interviews with Tony.

“The Responsive Chord” is probably the best book I have ever read on human communication and how to create advertising that resonates deeply with recipients – for reasons far beyond the message or the conscious mind.