Impossible to Ignore

Have you ever shared something on Facebook that you found really interesting, only to have it met with virtual silence? Your post probably did not follow Carmen Simon’s checklist for memorable content. Simon’s book, Impossible to Ignore: Creating Memorable Content to Influence Decisions recommends these 15 variables to influence people’s memory: context, cues, distinctiveness, emotion, novelty, surprise, relevance, repetition, facts, familiarity, motivation, social aspects, sensory intensity, quantity of information and self-generated content. Don’t worry, you don’t have to use all of these – just choose a few!

This week’s reading discusses a similar topic as my previous post, Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger. I will use the same examples from that post to highlight how they used Simon’s variables, ultimately leading to contagiousness and memorability.

Example 1: “Friday” by Rebecca Black

Variables Used: Repetition, Cues

Rebecca Black is a song about a young girl who, in summary, is super excited that it’s Friday. I know this because she says “Friday” and “weekend” approximately 50 times throughout the song. Just check out the chorus:

It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Repetition of the word “Friday” is the cue, or as Berger would say, trigger, that drove the success of this viral hit. According to Simon, a cue should get people from Point A to B. As per the graph I shared last week, searches for the song on Friday peaked on Fridays. This is likely thanks to the heavy repetition and strong cue.

Example 2: United Breaks Guitars

Variables Used: Emotion, Facts, Distinctiveness

As discussed in my previous post, this video went viral because of it stirred the emotion of viewers. The reason people were able to feel the singer’s anger was because he provided all the details and facts, such as flying from Chicago to Nebraska and exchanging a look of terror with his bandmates after seeing the guitar getting tossed. The video was distinctive as it was unique to react to bad customer service with a song – particularly country, a typically mellow genre!

Example 3: Movember

Variables Used: Motivation, Relevance, Context

This one is pretty straightforward. Men grow out facial hair for a good cause – motivation, check. The month November rhymes with Movember and “mo” is short for mustache – relevance, check. All men are invited to join in, so many are growing out facial hair at the same time – context, check!

Example 4: Never Say No To Panda

Variables Used: Sensory Intensity, Surprise

According to Simon, one way to achieve sensory intensity is by “linking abstract words to concrete pictures.” Normally, one would not link a panda to cheese. Yet, an Egyptian cheese company, Panda, found a way to bring these two unlikely words together. In a series of commercials, someone in a panda suit confronts people who say “no” to Panda cheese. The commercials typically go as follows:

Person A offers cheese to Person B. Person B says no. Soft, romantic song plays. Someone in a panda suit emerges and stares down Person B. Surprise – the person in the panda suit knocks everything down around them in retaliation. Text appears: “Never Say No To Panda.” Tell me you wouldn’t remember that every time you go to the cheese aisle!

Example 5: Kylie Jenner Lip Kit

Variables Used: Novelty, Self-Generated Content, Familiarity, Quantity of Information, Social Aspects


Kylie Cosmetics lip kits, packaging and card

Okay, you caught me. This example was not in my last post, but I just had to include it because it covers five variables! Kylie Jenner is the queen of getting social media attention, or, at least, she shares the crown with her sisters. The Kardashians and Jenners, undeniably, create memorable content.

Kylie’s lip kits, which consist of a liquid lipstick and lip liner, recently launched with huge success, and continue to sell out within minutes of restocks. I have to disclose that I bought one – I just had to see what the hype was about! The verdict: the two products alone are nothing revolutionary. In fact, some makeup bloggers claim the formula is almost identical to ColourPop, a brand which sells the liquid lipstick at a fraction of the price. But the fact that she sold them together in a kit is where the novelty lies.

After announcing that she would soon be starting a cosmetics line, Kylie took to her Snapchat to show her fans sneak peeks of the colors that were soon to launch. She swatched, or tried on, the lip kits on herself, her sisters and her friends. This self-generated content made fans feel like they were getting a kit with a personal touch, which is exactly what Kylie was going for. In fact, anyone who buys a kit gets a hand-written, signed card from Kylie thanking them for their support. This content and personal touch gave followers a sense of familiarity with the brand, which would later translate into action. It also helps that people are hyper-familiar with the Kardashians and Jenners already.

Meanwhile, on Instagram, Kylie started a business account under the username kyliecosmetics. This page posted less frequently than Kylie’s personal account and was a more professional, sharing close-ups of the packaging, colors, and so on. By regulating the quantity of information, she strategically did not overload her fans with too much content. In fact, providing less made people want more.

Perhaps the most important element of the lip kit craze was the social aspect. Makeup bloggers wanted to get their hands on the kits so they could be the first to review them. Their mixed reviews caused people to want to get the kit so they could decide for themselves. Regardless of whether you had something positive or negative to say, just having the kit gave you something to discuss. Or, as Jonah Berger would say, it gave them social currency.

Netflix and Motivation

Our client, Netflix, often misses the motivation variable. While its users do currently prefer Netflix over other streaming sites, but there is no way to guarantee their long-term loyalty. Implementing a loyalty system would be a way to motivate users to stick with Netflix. For example, if a user watches 150+ hours of content per month, they could become a Netflix Red member and gain access to more content. This has the potential to take off on social media as well, with users poking fun at how they binge-watch so much that Netflix decided to make them a special member.