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ChangingMinds Blog! > Blog Archive > 06-Dec-06


Wednesday 06-November-06

Londoners, Pigeons and Adverts

I just saw the following on the side of a bus:

'Intelligent Londoners do not feed the pigeons.
Intelligent Londoners use the Heathrow Express.'

What an interesting advert! Which is of course the first power that is being used here. By making a seemingly nonsensical statement, it grabs my attention. I need to make sense of the world around me and when it does not make sense, I feel impelled to take time out to think about what it all means.

But what else is going on? Well, it is pretty common knowledge in cities, including London, that feeding pigeons is generally frowned upon as it encourages over-population of our feathered friends, lots of pooping on the pavement and general bothering of people as pigeons try to grab food out your hand. Hence, the statement that intelligent Londoners do not feed pigeons will ring true with many people.

There is a good pull on Identity here, framing the reader as a 'Londoner'. For many who live here, being a Londoner is a matter of pride. It's a big, cosmopolitan city with a rich history. Even those who were not born here are often very happy and maybe flattered to be called 'Londoners'. For the rest of us, it also creates pull, as it lets us know how to be considered as intelligent and a savvy city person, at least in terms of not feeding the pigeons.

So now the first line has grabbed us and associated us into the text, the second line snags us along with the first two words, where repetition alone has a persuasive force. And only at the end does the real purpose of the advert come into play, which is about using the Heathrow Express. By now, we should be so ensnared that we are agreeing madly with whatever comes along.

So next time I go to Heathrow, you know I just think I might take the Heathrow Express.

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