Sweet Corn Memories: What makes ads so memorable?

This Monday morning, in the second week of spring, a heavy sheet of rain pelted against the Nude office windows in a loud liquid symphony, drowning out the inside patter of clicks and clacks from our desktops. The tooth-white Lego grid of Sanctuary Cove yachts and villas blurred into a grey palette of cloud, roof and water.

As the rain pounded against the corrugated iron roof, Wayne standing at his design table, deep in critical creative territory, muttered subconsciously, “the rains are ‘ere.” A moment later, Caitlin echoed in suit, “Maaaarge.” Silence, and the rain continued to pour.

That ad! So many years have passed since I first watched that ad! And still, here we were, our imaginations pulled back to a red-dirt Aussie outback setting and my taste buds dripping at the thought of corn.

Wayne was quick to test my astonishment at the 90s-born memory. “Yeah you know the ad, but who was it for?”

“McCain’s Sweet Corn,” I answered at lightning speed.

“Ah, well then you know it was a good ad, if you can still remember the product.”

Right on. Whether or not my family ever purchased McCain’s ‘super juicy’ corn cobs or not, that food product is still as loud and clear in my memory as the morning storm outside. And it seems this is likewise for a whole lot of Australians.

There are not one but two Facebook pages dedicated to the ad, and it also featured in the Cosmopolitan magazine’s article Things Australian Kids Of The Nineties Know To Be True at number three, representing Generation Y’s cognitive link between corrugated iron and corn.

There are memes, forums and multiple comic recreations based on McCain’s sweet corn ad. It’s safe to say we remembered it. But why do we remember (and reminisce about) this ad?

What makes an ad memorable?

Lois Geller of Lois Geller Marketing Group, a woman who has processed thousands of advertisements in her career, encapsulated the effective memorability of ads within four points:

  • Disruptive and relevant visual
  • Strong brand identification
  • Brilliant headline; and
  • “Something else,” the wow-factor

University of Delaware marketing professor Stewart Shapiro observed in 2012 that by adding very subtle visual changes to print advertisements (say, the location of a logo), advertisements became more memorable to the consumer, as we increase our recognition skills to try to pick up the difference.

“Repeated exposure to the same stimulus improves the memory trace of the stimulus which, in turn, facilitates processing of the stimulus at the time of judgment,” state Janiszewski and Meyvis (2001, p.18) in a similar train of thought.

University of Delaware

When examining the success of television advertising, media and marketing blog group MarketShare attribute memorability to brand equity. They noted that well-established brands are granted an informal right to be a little quirkier, a little weirder or a little more creative with their advertising, because hey, we are going to remember the marketed product regardless.

This doesn’t warrant Coles the right to launch a commercial of dancing pelicans or Motorola to run a campaign featuring a kooky red-head guy impersonating an iPhone (oh wait, jokes, they did that); but it does mean that better known brands can use ‘out-there’ or ‘bold’ creativity more frequently. This leads to greater memory among consumers. Take this Sprite ad for example; would this ad work as well for a smaller unknown independent product?

MarketShare also observed among web discussion on the memorability of commercials that humour, a good tagline or jingle and the integral inclusion of an iconic personality throughout the commercial series aids memorability.

Commercial memorability, as Friestad and Thorson (1993) alert, is highly important in consumers’ post-exposure decision about products and the retrieval of ad memories in the purchase environment. There is a lot of value in executing humorous, clever and unique advertising campaigns and commercials where and whenever possible.

Remembering good ads is a pleasure. And when we remember these good ads, we remember the product, and that in turn is great for the brand.

Before creating a commercial or advertising campaign, think about the how and the why of ad memorability acheter cialis 20 mg. And be different, and be bold, even if that sounds a little corny.