Annoying is Memorable

Have you noticed the trend for commercials to be as annoying as possible so you are more likely to remember them? One is the Head On commercial. Have you heard it yet? “Head On…apply directly to your forehead. Head On…apply directly to your forehead. Head On…apply directly to your forehead. Head On is now available at Walgreens.” Now Head On is running a commercial that plays on how annoying the original ad is. “Head On…apply directly to your forehead. Head On…apply directly…Head On, I can’t stand your commercial, but I love your product.” No doubt the company is well aware their first commercial irritated the masses. I’m guessing they were counting on it as a way of branding their product in our brains.

As much as I want to criticize companies who use this tactic, who can fault them for embracing an idea that works? I have to admit, I’ve remembered the name of the product from the first time I heard the commercial. Some of the pleasant ads their competitors air with happy, headache-free people running down the beach with yellow labs on their heels have honestly been lost on me. I can’t remember the product name after seeing the commercial a dozen times let alone once.

What is it about ‘irritating’ that gets our attention? Just like the tot in the grocery store lost in a cadence of “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy”, my brain seems to register the loud and annoying more effectively than the quiet and tranquil. Perhaps we’ve just polluted our environment with so much sound, pleasant noises are hard to notice. Maybe that means my husband is actually paying me a compliment when he can’t seem to hear me while he is watching television.

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