It’s about the story of the Blind Man usually credited to the legendary David Ogilvy to illustrate the need to look at things differently and the power of words to evoke emotions. Here’s the ‘original’ piece:
“…One day, there was a blind man sitting on the steps of a building with a hat by his feet and a sign that read:
‘I AM BLIND, PLEASE HELP’
A Coach was walking by and stopped to observe.
He saw that the blind man had only a few coins in his hat.
He dropped in more coins and, asked for permission to change the sign, the Coach then took the sign and added three words.
He returned the sign to the blind man and left.
That afternoon the Coach returned to the blind man and noticed that his hat was full of bills and coins.
The blind man recognized his footsteps and asked if it was he who had rewritten his sign and wanted to know what he had written on it.
The Coach responded:
“Nothing that was not true. I just wrote the message a little differently.”
He smiled and went on his way.
The new sign read:
‘IT’S SPRING AND I’M BLIND, PLEASE HELP’
Now, for the interesting part:
Recently a promotional video for an online agency Purplefeather on this story recently went viral with some 14 millions of hits till-date on YouTube aptly titled as ‘The Power Of Words.’ In the final moments of the video the woman (a copywriter?) changes the sign to:
‘IT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY AND I CAN’T SEE IT’
Do you see the difference between the two sign-texts? And which one gets your vote?
This is what Nick Asbury, a seasoned professional with many credits has to say on the revised sign:
* Ignoring the existing text written by the hapless blind man, she writes her own line on the reverse, thereby removing any of the wit and charm of the original story.
* She goes further by spelling out what was implicit in the original line. ‘IT’S SPRING AND I’M BLIND’ is a spare statement of fact that leaves the reader to fill in the emotional gap. This is where it gets its power.
* What if it isn’t a beautiful day? What if it’s raining tomorrow, or in a couple of hours? Ogilvy thought of this – ‘spring’ is nicely open-ended. If you watch the video, you can see it appears to be a grey and damp day, even though the woman copywriter is bizarrely wearing sunglasses. Almost makes you wonder which of them is blind.
* Finally, there’s no call to action: ‘PLEASE HELP’
So much of design going into crafting so few words?
The video is at youtube.com/watch?v=Hzgzim5m7oU. Nick’s article may be read at
asburyandasbury.typepad.com/blog. Thanks to picgifs.com for the clipart.