ZIPPO LIGHTERS

Many ads cater to consumers’ short attention spans by running scarcely any copy. While this approach doesn’t impose on people’s time, it also gives them little leeway to make choices. Think of it this way: If an ad has dozens of paragraphs, you have lots of options about what to read or not read; if it has just half a dozen words, your only real choice is to read it entirely or not at all. Instead of empowering readers, short-copy ads give them a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. Few people who see this Zippo ad are likely to plow through all its text blocks, which recount great moments in Zippo history. (For instance, a Zippo appeared in the movie Casablanca in 1942.) But by giving people so many possibilities, the ad raises the odds they’ll read at least a few. And, just as important, it gives them the pleasant sensation of having exercised their taste in deciding which snippets to read and which to ignore. Since smokers are now an oppressed minority, they’ll be particularly receptive to an approach that lets them exercise their will.