Monday, February 05, 2007

Why Some Ideas Stick

From Michael S. Hopkin's article today at the Christian Science Monitor, touting Chip and Dan Heath's Made To Stick.

On April 29, 1999, an article appeared in the Indiana Daily Student headlined "Indiana U. Senior Gains New Perspective on Life." You'll recognize the story. It profiled a 425-pound college kid who cut his weight in half by eating fast food. His name was Jared.

Part of the reason you know the story is that Subway – the place Jared got his veggie and turkey subs every day – turned it into an ad campaign that transformed Jared into an unlikely celebrity. (Possibly you can still picture him in his "after" version, stretching the 60-inch waist of his "before" pants between two widespread hands.)

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, By Chip Heath and Dan Heath, Random House, 289 pp., $29.95
But the Subway campaign alone doesn't explain the nearly viral phenomenon it triggered. There have been countless other ad campaigns since Jared's debuted, and none of them imprinted an unknown college student on the nation's memory the way Subway's did. Nor did many of them so swiftly and lastingly get their message across. ("Our food, though fast, is actually so healthy it can help you lose weight.")

Why not? What was it about Jared's message that made it – and him – stick?

I know I am going to love this book, I am going to learn what is in it, believe it, swear it's true, and then go back to trying to persuade people in my old boring way. Because the techniques that work won't seem "fair" to me.

Continue the CSM article here


Unknown said...

Curious, let me know how it is. I'm told I need to "step up" my reading... or something like that.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I don't know what that means, but I'll do what I can to help. I try to review books in such a way that my readers can fake it if need be. Because that is what I would want from them.

Unfortunately, linguistics, social commentary, and oddments of history are about all I supply here.

Though I will be doing a genealogy/DNA book soon.

You could also go over to my middlebrow links on my sidebar. They actually know something at those sites.

Unknown said...

I was mostly kidding, apparently Yertle the Turtle and Cat and the Hat are "elementary."

Assistant Village Idiot said...