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I recently bought a book called 'The Advertising Concept Book' to help me improve in the areas of advertising and idea generation.

Throughout the book, there are short exercises to help put your new found knowledge into practice.

One of the exercises is to write your own headlines in the style of The Economists advertising campaign, with the following examples provided:

  1. "I never read The Economist"
  2. The pregnant pause. Make sure you're not the father
  3. Lose the ability to slip out of meetings unnoticed

I can't, for the life of me, understand what message these adverts are trying to convey however.

I think I get the first one, in that it is meant as a joke by using someone's negative opinion of the magazine as some kind of testimonial.

But I don't get the other two at all (perhaps this is just me being really slow). I don't understand what they mean or how they relate to the magazine?

  • I don't see how this is related to writing. In a sense this is basically in the category of "Questions seeking to interpret or analyze an existing work (except when applied to a real-world writing project).", which is off-topic. I am therefore voting to close this question as off-topic. – Secespitus Jan 10 '18 at 15:10
  • @Secespitus is an Economist campaign not a real-world writing project? – pealo86 Jan 10 '18 at 19:19
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1.

In the actual advertising, the quote is attributed to a "management trainee, aged 42":

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The idea here is that if that person had read The Economist, he wouldn't still be a trainee at such an advanced age.

2.

A pregnant pause happens when listeners wait expectantly (pregnant = "expecting (a child)") for what you will say. If you are the father of the pregnant pause, the listeners wait expectantly for what you are going say. The warning to not be the cause of that expectation implies that it is not being fulfilled, because you do not know what to say. If you read The Economist, you know what to say and cause no pause in conversation.

3.

When you can slip out of a meeting unnoticed, you habitually do not contribute to meetings because you have nothing to say. If you read The Economist, you will have something meaningful to contribute.


All the advertisements from that campaign emphasize that reading The Economist will give its readers the knowledge necessary to excel in fields related to economy such as management and business.

This message is expressed by putting common phrases into a context where their meaning is inverted. Usually, when someone says that they don't read a periodical it means that it contains nothing that is useful for them. Usually, when we speak of a pregnant pause, we mean that we wait for something highly informative or exciting. Usually, when you slip out of a meeting unnoticed, you do because the meeting was boring and useless. By slightly changing the wording or context of these common phrases, these advertisements create a brief irritation, which is resolved in a moment of humor.

An example for a new advertisement following the same design principle might be:

If the mountain won't come to Muhammad, Muhammad will read The Economist.

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  • Thanks... this all makes perfect sense now! Originally I was reading the 'Make sure you're not the father' line as being more like 'Hope that you're not the father'... no wonder I was so confused! – pealo86 Jan 10 '18 at 10:33
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The pregnant pause. Make sure you're not the father.

This one's easy, I think. Pregnant and father. Rather as an accident than on purpose.

Pregnant pause. When someone stops talking, and everybody looks at you, because whatever was said before that pause, most probably negative, was directed at you. Oops. You're the father of a pregnant pause... What did you do to deserve that? Try not to do it again.

Lose the ability to slip out of meetings unnoticed.

If you can slip out of a meeting unnoticed, it's probably because you weren't needed there anyway. Try to make yourself indispensable.

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