In the first post I revealed the first ‘S’ of SUCCESs stands for simple. Today I’m here to announce that the ‘U’ in the Heath brothers’ acronym stands for unexpected.
In public relations and marketing, one of the ways to create a successful and sticky message is by portraying it in an unexpected manner. However, one of the things the brothers warn about when making messages is becoming gimmicky. If your campaign has unexpected aspects but your message is not being relayed, it doesn’t stick with your audience. The image of the commercial or campaign may be remembered, but your message would be lost inside of it.
By utilizing the ‘aha’ moment people have, campaigns can implement this unexpected factor successfully. The gap theory is based on people’s tendency to have a knowledge gap, but are overly confident they already have the knowledge. What the writers of Made to Stick suggest is to first show the audience they have a knowledge gap.
One of the most unexpected pr campaigns this year was Pearson’s Project Literacy. The campaign showed viewers the gap theory in action. In order to inform their audiences about illiteracy in the world, they had to first show them they didn’t have the knowledge about how illiteracy is an underlying factor to a lot of the world’s problems.
Another strategy this campaign nailed was to simply break the common and well-known. By using the ABCs, one of the first and most common songs children are taught, Project Literacy was able to ‘break the norm.’ Instead of reciting the alphabet and using words such as apple or bear, Pearson made their message sticky by showing an unexpected twist of the terrible things illiteracy is connected to like aids and bloodshed.
The Pearson’s Project Literacy was a successful campaign in raising awareness for the everyday problems illiteracy fuels because it was unexpected, but also by using the simplicity of their message. After watching the video, anyone can see the problems they bring up are not simple concepts. They could have ran this campaign by diving in and making a series of videos showing how illiteracy is connected to life expectancy or poverty. By making the decision to simplify the message, it became sticky.