Get your attention? Mermaid marketing

Hoping to draw eyes to its latest shipment of South Seas pearls amid a city's Olympic distractions, a jewelry store in Sydney, Australia, hired live "mermaids" to lounge in its storefront last week.

"Live mannequins" have been making appearances for years. Expect more performance-art marketing as the race for "mindshare" heats up. Interactivity appears to be key. Studies are under way.

A research center in Cambridge, Mass., for example, is trying to find out how businesses (and managers) can most effectively get (and keep) people focused. Andersen Consulting's Institute for Strategic Change, where "attention management" is studied, says the scarcest resource in the economy is not capital, equipment, or money, but human attention.

Tom Davenport, director of the Institute, notes a countertrend: "information-free zones" where people aren't bombarded with messages. He also cites a rise in focus groups where attention is monitored electronically.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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