Seinfeld on Marketing: Marketing earworms

Fridays and Seinfeld can only mean one thing: Seinfeld on Marketing! Let’s dive right in, shall we? In this episode, George is talking to Jerry about his dating philosophy:

GEORGE: I got a date with the sales woman. She’s got a little Marisa Tomei thing going on.

JERRY: Ah, too bad you got a little George Costanza thing going on.

GEORGE: I’m going out with her tomorrow, she said she had some errands to run.

JERRY: That’s a date?

GEORGE: What’s the difference? You know they way I work. I’m like a commercial jingle. First it’s a little irritating, then you hear

it a few times, you hum it in the shower, by the third date it’s “By Mennen!”.

Earworms. Yup. That’s what they call those annoying songs and jingles that get stuck in your head faster than a two-year-old in a playland full of plastic balls. And they’re very hard to dislodge from the brain. In fact, I challenge any man, women or child on the face of this God-given green earth of ours to try and not hum or sing that blasted It’s A Small World After All song after getting off that ride in Disneyland. Go on. Try it. It can’t be done. And believe me, I’ve tried. And why is that?

According to research conducted by University of Cincinnati professor James Kellaris songs that are simple, repetitive, and contain some incongruity (have an unexpected twist) are most likely to become stuck.

So here’s what I learned. The Village People may not have been village idiots after all. I mean, take their Y.M.C.A. song. It’s an earworm, big time. The chorus is simple, it’s certainly repetitive and it contains some incongruity (I mean, who knew that a Native American Chief, a biker and a military man could make music?).

Simplicity. Repetition. Incongruity. All very powerful tools. But before you go out and try and make marketing earworms, let me caution you with this. Sure earworms are powerful, but if they are not backed up by relevance and meaning, what you’ve got is nothing more than a marshmallow Peep – it taste good at the time but provides no lasting benefit or significance. In fact, what I wrote about in my Seinfeld on Marketing ebook is that if your customer experience is faulty and then you try to increase your exposure, you can actually propel your business into inexistence faster. The formula goes:

bad customer experience + increased exposure = accelerated extinction

So make sure you have what others really want. In fact, do me a huge favor and read Tom Asacker’s post about repetition and creating memories.

[Side Note: If you now have It’s A Small World After All or Y.M.C.A. stuck in your head, you can thank me later!]

Happy Friday y’all!

This post is part of an ongoing series, Seinfeld on Marketing.

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2 Responses

  1. The style of writing is very familiar to me. Did you write guest posts for other bloggers?

  2. I think Subway has proven this with the recent “5 . . . .5 dollar . . . . 5 dollar footlong” jingle.

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