Saturday, December 26, 2009

An Advertising Approach to High Concept Pitching (Part 2)

In Part I, scholar Altug Isigan looks at the structure of commercials to see what tactics from advertising can be applied to high concept pitching. In Part 2, he explains the role of the structural parts of commercials and gives examples on how these can be used to shape a high concept.

Expose Benefits over Features

In the exposure part, it is most important that you avoid listing mere features. They may all mean a lot to you and the group of people you work with. But a feature, if it is not explained as to what benefits it brings to the user of the product, could be easily overlooked or deemed insignificant. So you got to remind your addressee of what the feature translates to in real life and how, in practical terms, it answers the need you’ve addressed in the teaser.

So, how do we expose a feature as a benefit? Here are two examples: Instead of saying that the game can be played with up to six players you could say that it is for the whole family or can be played with a large group of friends. Instead of saying that the game features a total of 72 hours of gameplay you could say that it features more than 30 exciting levels with over 100 items to be unlocked.

What’s really important is to translate the feature into the type of “currency” that makes sense to the user and expresses “value” on her terms, not yours.

The Peak of the High Concept

We don’t write a high concept because we want it to be forgotten. We write it because we want it to be actively considered by our addressee, and because we want it to be remembered over longer periods, even if it initially got rejected. Well, that is where the climax jumps in.

On one hand, a climax is something cool or funny or worth to remember about our presentation. A pun, a wit, a catchphrase, anything that is impressive or fills the heart with lightness. The climax presents us something that we will remember whenever the same need resurfaces. And the other way round: remembering the climax will make the addressee think over and over of the idea that had been pitched.

On the other hand, the climax can also be build upon a promise: Something that will increase what the addressee can gain from the proposal if she decides to maintain her interest in it. Maybe there is already work in progress about a sequel to the proposed idea? Maybe the proposed game introduces a technology that the company’s whole product line can benefit from, once it is being crafted? Whatever the promise is, it should definitely be something intriguing.

Finally; don’t forget: ideas are not rejected solely because they are bad. Sometimes you just weren’t lucky enough. Maybe it was not the right time for submission, but who knows, six months from now, your high concept might be exactly what the company is looking for. Give your addressee a reason to remember your game idea.

So, what’s next?

No advert is really complete without a call for action. This is simply when you invite your addressee to take a next step (one that takes her closer to your idea):

-“We’re having a testing session for the game on Monday afternoon. Come join us.”


What is there more to say? I hope that this article was useful and created in you the desire to have a closer look at advertising techniques. Good luck with your proposals!

Altug Isigan is a scholar at the Eastern Mediterranean University, Department of Radio-TV and Film, in sunny Famagusta, Cyprus, where he is writing a dissertation on narrative in games. You can read more of his work at his blog, the Ludosphere.


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