A Timeless Lesson From John Caples, Part 2

Let’s continue with John Caples’s Readers Digest– informed breakdown of ways to open copy or interesting articles.

2. The Shocker

Closely related to the interrupting idea is an opening that is even more striking and can be described as ‘the shocker.'”

First off, you snickering kids in the back can go to the principal’s office right now.

Caples is spotlighting the “get their attention, even if you have to be a little crude” approach. (See the Office video up top, if you haven’t yet.)

Citing Reader’s Digest, Caples gives four examples including:

“A Frenchman is rarely seen drunk, but France has the highest rate of alcoholism in the world.”

I suppose this inadvertently illustrates how, to quote Jane’s Addiction, “Nothing’s Shocking” anymore.  Would it shock you to know that there are many French alcoholics?

Perhaps the shock lies in the juxtaposition–on the outside they’re all class, but behind des portes closes (closed doors)…

(And for what it’s worth, Moldova is now pacing the world in alcohol consumption… which must also mean alcoholism?)

The first more “modern” example that springs to mind (and this is a headline, where The Shocker is even more effective), is the Bottom Line Personal chestnut:

What to never…ever eat on an airplane!

Though it’s not all that modern. Good luck getting any food on today’s planes.

Still, the shock effect remains strong, infused with a mega-dose of curiosity. That one’s a keeper.

There must be a line that gets crossed eventually, where you’re just too shocking.

Where do you reckon it is?

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