I’m currently reading a really fascinating book. It was recommended by Jack Ford (Copywriter’s Roundtable) so I knew it would be worth reading—but I didn’t expect fascinating.
The title is Made to Stick and it’s written by Chip and Dan Heath, subtitled Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, which, as a copywriter, I, as well as my clients can definitely benefit from.
There are examples given on ideas that stick that just floored me!
Do you remember how fun Halloween was years ago, with kids going out on Halloween and coming back with homemade popcorn balls, baked goods, fruit and homemade candy? And then it all changed, starting in the 60’s, and again in the 70’s, there was word that some children got razor blades in apples, and drugs in candy, and then it had to be nothing but securely wrapped candy from the store. No more good home-prepared items or fruit allowed.
In 1985, researchers discovered that was all a myth! It never happened. It was an idea that “stuck” in the minds of parents everywhere. My guess is it was the candy companies that got that going, but who knows—that’s not proven. There were two children that died by Halloween treats, but it was from a family member in each case—not a neighbor or stranger.
Another example—it won an election. Remember “It’s the economy stupid”? James Carville coined that as an afterthought, and it “stuck”.
There was one rather mediocre movie that made mega bucks with the “sticky” catch phrase “Jaws on a Spaceship”, if you remember Alien.
Sticky ideas have been around for centuries. Various versions of one of history’s more famous proverbs—Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire, have been seen in more than fifty-five different languages. Now THAT’S sticky!
And there are lots more great examples of ideas that have endured, and sold a lot of stuff, or caused a change in habits.
The brothers Heath acknowledge they have written their book as a sort of compliment to Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point, which delved into the same basic subject. And Gladwell came up with the word “stickiness”. The Heaths have just carried it farther by identifying the traits that make ideas stick.
And one trait they emphasize is simplicity .
I’m looking forward to finishing this book, and I’ll tell you more.