The Learning Curve

New tricks for an old dog.

Catching Ducks with Duct Tape

Two new marketing books featuring images of duct tape to represent the idea of “sticky”.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, and;

Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide.

I haven’t read the second book, but in the first, Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath summarize the keys to causing ideas to be memorable is to make them:

  1. Simple
  2. Unexpected
  3. Concrete
  4. Credible, and
  5. Emotional Story

. . . leaving unexplained why it is, after thirty years, I still remember:

Oh, I wish I were an Oscar-Mayer wiener;
That is what I’d truly like to be.
Cause if I were an Oscar-Mayer wiener,
Everyone would be in love with me.

. . . and neglecting the salient fact that, although I clearly remember Oscar-Mayer wieners, I never buy them. There has to be more to the story then it just being memorable. After all, the point is not to have people nostalgically singing about hot dogs thirty years later, it is to sell more hot dogs.

An example is Jared, the guy who lost 100 pounds by eating nothing but Subway subs and who became a spokesperson for the company. His story qualifies as “sticky,” and it also helped boost Subway’s sales by 18% in one year. I don’t see Jared on TV much these days. He may be sticky, but he has also gone stale.

This is how Jared’s weight loss story has worked in my head. Seven years ago when Jared was novel, I didn’t need to lose weight and I wasn’t worried about gaining weight, so he was essentially irrelevant to me personally. Now, things have changed, and I’m a tad plumper then I’d like to be, and I still remember Jared’s story. Just not exactly with the results Subway might prefer.

My favorite is a meatball sub. Nobody in the history of humankind has ever lost weight by eating a meatball sub, with cheese. Sometimes I eat a meatball sub anyway, but never at Subway.

The reason?

I only eat meatball subs these days when I can minimize, disregard, or otherwise forget my desire to lose weight, but I can never do that at Subway because of that damn sticky memory of Jared reminding me NOT to eat meatball subs.

So, when I want to be bad and eat a meatball sub, and be comfortable about it, I go to a local Italian place where fat is a virtue, and I am allowed to forget Jared.


Written by Tom Fox

01/09/2007 at 9:26 am

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