The art of being vague

Martin Haake in the Los Angeles Times:

36_28_2The subway cars in New York are plastered with ads featuring cartoonish character faces with absolutely no hint about the advertisement’s purpose except for a come-on with the word Windorphins.

So what are Windorphins? A video game? A kiddie show? A sugary snack? A new drug to make you feel like your endorphins are kicking in?

None of the above. Windorphins is a new marketing gimmick for EBay, with ads so inscrutable as to be ridiculous. If the ads aroused enough curiosity for people to check out, some might have been disappointed to find that the mysterious windorphins (whatever those are) were simply a big tease.

But curiosity — in the form of a riddle, a mystery, a puzzle, even a clever bit of deception — is a powerful thing. Advertising has learned that teasing the public without giving too much away can be an effective marketing tool that can create a tremendous amount of excitement. Why? Because of our tremendous need to know.

More here.