Made to stick in a good way

New York Times bestseller, Heath brothers’ Made to Stick, inspires me in many ways as and beyond a marketer. Its SUCCESs model, referring to create a simple unexpected concrete credentialed emotional story, is also extremely helpful for creatives to generate ideas and campaigns that can stick to people’s mind for as long as possible. There are tons of sticky campaigns out there that we can learn from. For instance, Virgin Atlantic’s Flying in the Face of Ordinary campaign and Volve Trucks’ The Epic Split. These, along with other sticky campaigns that I didn’t have time to mention above, generate lots of buzz and conversations, and ultimately improve their brand images, if not instant sales performance. However, I was thinking some questions, while reading this interesting book. Do sticky campaigns always make people feel good? And do sticky campaigns always boost sales performance?

While these questions keep spinning around my head, I saw two campaigns that stick to me this week, in a negative way. Frankly speaking, the stickiness doesn’t make me feel good about the content at all.

In The Meantime Men(Campaign 1)

Exiting from California 101 to Western Avenue, I saw a billboard standing at the corner, which immediately catches my attention. This is a campaign promoted by a non-profit organization called In The Meantime Men, in order to raise the awareness of HIV among black gay men. I sincerely appreciate the efforts taken by this organization to help people for the good cause. And to be honest, this campaign is very sticky to me. It delivers the simple core message in a very concrete way. The message is very unexpected. It also tries to provoke the emotions by relating it to each family, since this is a message to mom and dad. However, jumping outside the box, I do feel this campaign is a little inappropriate.  Imagine the reactions when people being asked the questions of “Are you gay?”, “Are you infected with HIV?”, and “Are you sure?” by their own parents. Also, imagine how paranoid parents would be about their children after seeing this billboard. Simply put, it is a sticky campaign with very compelling statistics and message. But from my perspective, it is definitely better for the organization to present it in another way. How about a more caring story from a mother’s perspective?

Siri vs Cortana – Groundhog Day (Campaign 2)

The other campaign that sticks to my mind comes from one of Nokia’s latest campaigns: Siri vs. Cortana. Despite of the fact that intelligent voice assistant in cellphone is no longer an attractive selling point for consumers, since major players have incorporated this feature for a long while. Comparing your brand with other competitors in commercials by mentioning their names seems like a despicable move to me. Yes, this campaign is very sticky because it delivers the simple and concrete core message by comparison. Also, the story it narrates is very credentialed and unexpected, which could relate to a lot of users who are not satisfied with the other products. However, regardless of the stickiness, I feel it is ok to show how good you are, while it is a bit shady to point out how bad your competitors are. It is just not a healthy competition.

Not to blame Nokia alone on this, because many other big names in this category have already done this before, including Apple (See the ads), Microsoft (See the ads), and Samsung (See the ads). Personally, I don’t appreciate many of those ads. And I’d really like to find out how other people feel about it. But on top of everything, my expectation to this Siri vs. Cortana campaign is negative. I don’t think many people will flip from iPhone to Nokia based on this campaign.

Making your campaign sticky and memorable is very important. However, there are a lot more factors we should considerate when creating sticky campaigns besides the SUCCESs model. For example, we should definitely try harder to make sure our campaign and message is able to leave a positive impression and make people feel comfortable, which in turn could directly or potentially improve the business performance and brand images.

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2 Responses to Made to stick in a good way

  1. Jillian says:

    Hi Haoming, interesting blog post! As I read through your blog, I couldn’t help but to remember a class discussion I had in my videography class during my undergraduate years of college. We had watched a TV commercial, and I (along with my classmates) had mentioned how irritating the commercial was. Our professor’s response, “But you remembered it didn’t you?” Dumfounded and confused, the class reaction was the same… So what? It’s still annoying. From there, our professor proceeded to say that sometimes, commercials are made to be annoying, because though the reaction wasn’t altogether positive, it’s something that still sticks in our minds. Hah. Brilliant, I thought.

    I don’t know if the purpose of these questionable sticky campaigns are executed in a similar fashion for that reason, but when it comes to messages such as these that push the boundaries of being ethical, I would like to think that they aren’t deliberately putting these messages out there. However, I feel that they are.

    • Haoming Zhang says:

      Hi Jillian! Thanks for that perfect example! I am sure some of these ads work surprisingly well. Probably that’s why advertisers keep doing it. But it’s just so hard to actually measure the ROI of each campaign precisely. Somehow we have to measure the campaign by its stickiness.