“You can’t save souls in an empty church.”   -David Ogilvy

I’m not quoting a minister, I’m quoting the “King of Madison Avenue,” the man behind the Hathaway shirt ads with the famous patch over one eye, the Schweppes soft drink ads and many more from magazines, newspapers and television in the 50s and 60s.

Ogilvy understood the importance of getting and keeping the attention of readers and viewers. I can’t help thinking he had it easier then than we do today, though.   There were two major newspapers in every town, maybe three television stations, less than ten magazines that “everybody” read.

Now, we’re competing with thousands of cable TV channels and millions of websites, some of which have dancing hamsters. How do we get and keep people’s attention on the product or service we’re offering with all that going on?

Aviation Marketing - Getting attention can require setting one's hair on fire.

Getting attention can require setting one's hair on fire

There was an executive that I worked with in a fairly large corporation. We used to joke “You can’t get his attention unless you walk into his office with your hair on fire.”   Inevitably, some jokester wore a fire wig into his office, which DID get attention, and it was funny the first time he did it.   Eventually, even the “hair on fire” wig became “old hat.”

So, hair on fire, dancing hamsters, and other gimmicks don’t work – at least not more than once. The intriguing ads of David Ogilvy’s time have a lot more competition, so even the famous eyepatch will only get you so far.

What does work?


If you’re passionate about the product or service you’re selling, it’s pretty easy to make it interesting. There are great stories about any great product, service or company. Enthusiasm is authentic, it can’t be faked, it can be infused into any marketing materials in any format (web pages, social media, direct mail, print ads, etc.) If it conveys your enthusiasm, it will stand out from the rest of the “information overload” that comes into our lives every day.

How Enthusiasm Makes a Difference

What are the practical values of enthusiasm?  First of all, enthusiasm is a strong indication that you’re not longer in a rut. It means you have put a great deal of distance between yourself and mediocrity.  Also –

  • Enthusiasm permits no room for anything derogatory It automatically discards it and converts criticism to praise.
  • Enthusiasm is a gracious and polite bid for attention.
  • Enthusiasm recognizes the values of everything. It talks positive and acts positive.
  • Enthusiasm leaves no room for boredom.
  • Enthusiasm is a method of diplomacy and persuasion.
  • Enthusiasm is a way to get others to WANT to help themselves and to help you.
  • Enthusiasm establishes spirit and cooperation.
  • Enthusiasm has little or no cost.

– Source – a very old, yellowed clipping from the Reader’s Digest a friend of mine carries in his wallet.


Because most of the “stuff” on the internet, on TV, and in print these days lacks authenticity, genuine enthusiasm, and if I might use the term, “soul.”  People have an instinct for genuine human energy, and can tell when it’s there and when it’s not.

Which doesn’t mean you might not have to resort to publicity stunts or attention-getting gimmicks, they’re a fine tool for a certain purpose, but once you have people’s attention, you have seconds (or less) to show them something genuine and worthwhile in order to keep their attention.

ABCI uses an extensive questionnaire to vet potential clients because we’ve found that marketing a product or service for a company that has no enthusiasm for it is a losing battle.  No matter how clever or well-constructed your marketing campaigns, and no matter how much your sales people are paid, without enthusiasm there is little chance of long-term sales success.

On the other hand, if a company IS excited about the product or service they’re offering, most obstacles (including short time frames, small budgets, few hands to do the work, and so on) can be overcome.

The following video shows a quick discussion at the social media form at the NBAA conference.  Patrick Dunne (NBAA) asked the question:

“How do you make your posts and tweets interesting?”

Jason Wolf (NBAA) and Paula Williams (ABCI) gave their thoughts, Jon Ostrower (a reporter with FlightGlobal) responded as well.

Free Download

if (document.currentScript) { .