Would you ever want your mass media ad to be less than maximally entertaining?

Assuming everything was “family friendly,” would you ever want your ad creative to intentionally hold back on the entertainment, humor, shock-value, etc?

Great. Hold that answer; we’ll circle back to it in a minute.

Now let me ask if you know “The Piña Colada song”?

A lot of people do, but there’s actually no such song.

The real name for that tune is “Escape”

Yet the majority of people who like the song enough to request it don’t know the proper title.

They only can refer to it as The Piña Colada song.

This despite the song’s chart-topping status back in 1979 and renewed popularity from The Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack.

Weird, huh?

Except, not that weird, once you understand memory and persuasion.

Why No One Knows the Name of this Billboard #1 Hit Single

If you’ve never heard the song before, listen to “Escape” below. You’ll need to know a bit about the song and the lyrics to understand this next part.


So why do people not know the actual name of the song?

Because they remember the high energy chorus, which starts with “If you like Piña Coladas…”

The low-energy-but-logical end of the chorus of “write to me and escape” gets forgotten, if it was ever really heard at all.

Plus, Piña Coladas are tangible, specific, sensory, and ripe with emotional associations, all of which makes them sticky in the mind.

Escape, on the other hand, is an abstract concept, which slips easily out of memory.

Make sense?

Why What People Remember Matters

Great. Now let’s circle back to the question about whether you’d ever want your ad to be less than maximally entertaining.

The correct answer is: yes.

See, if the humorous or entertaining or shocking parts of your ad aren’t the parts carrying the persuasion, or even the brand identification, then there’s a very good chance the audience will remember the entertainment and forget everything else.

They may even say, “Oh, yeah, I love that ad with the funny cat and the pigeon,” while having no idea WHAT or WHO was being advertised.

That’s not good.

And this very scenario has, in fact, happened with Taco Bell’s chihuahua from their “Yo quiero taco bell?” campaign.

The only thing people remembered was the dog, which is why sales for chihuahuas increased while sales for Taco Bell decreased.

Because this is what separates the heroes from schmoes in branding:

The ability to use entertainment and humor to drive home the message, rather than obscure it.

And, yes, sometimes that means making the ad just funny or interesting enough to get the job done, rather than maximally entertaining.

So if you like both Piña Coladas AND having your advertising drive rocket-like growth, write to me and…