There are a lot of different ways for me to tell you how to “show instead of telling,” most if not all of them involve a great, big pile of telling and the irony of doing that wasn’t lost on me so instead, I’m going to leave you with this great quote from Brandemix and this video from the guys at CP+B, the developers of the Truth ad campaign.
“One of the best recent examples of this principle of dissonance being applied to cause marketing is the Truth campaign aimed at lessening teen use of cigarettes. The agency that created the campaign, CP+B, first determined a fundamental trait that all teens relate to: rebellion against authority . . .”
Coincidentally, being iconoclastic is a main cause of smoking in the first place so they knew any ad that preached the negative consequences of smoking, no matter how gruesome or evocative, would be dismissed like every other admonition coming from elders.
Instead, they used that trait to provoke ire for a different authority figure: big tobacco. Each TV spot would start the way typical cigarette ads would – cowboys on a cattle ranch or skydivers getting ready for a rush (the familiar setting). Except, instead of skydivers or cowboys there were body bags (the dissonance). The tagline blames tobacco companies for not disclosing the truth about cigarettes. The ads summoned a familiar emotion and then broke teens’ guessing machines. 66% of teens who were exposed to these ads were more likely to quit – a shocking success.