Let's begin with a secret.
When I was at University, the most popular activity amongst my friends was beer, parties and sex. A noble hobby, I grant you.
I, however, gratified myself with a collection of magazines — supermarket food magazines, to be precise. You know the ones... always glossy, always free, always drool-inducing.
Without question, those magazines shaped two of my most distinguished talents:
1. They made me a great photographer. Never underestimate the unsightly amount of money brands spend on making their food look sightly. Food photography taught me a great deal about composition and mood. (NB: Follow me on instagram. Sure, it has nothing to do with running this agency, but it has everything to do with my pursuit of 'mood')
2. They made me a persuasive writer. Have you ever read a supermarket food magazine while consciously looking for the hidden psychological techniques on each page? That's the only way I read these magazines, and I consider Tesco to be the most skilled in the art of subtle persuasion. Why? Because they're relentless. Rarely will you see a page in their mag that doesn't deploy highly persuasive copywriting techniques.
Before we whisk our way through two of these techniques, remember, Tesco is Britain's biggest supermarket chain... so with that in mind, is it not time you poured some of their well-researched persuasion tricks into your Marketing mix?
TECHNIQUE 1: ALLITERATION
What is alliteration?
According to Wikipedia, it is '... the repetition of identical initial consonant sounds in successive or closely associated syllables within a group of words, even those spelled differently'.
For a simpler definition, Lindsay Kramer from Grammarly puts it nicely:
'Alliteration is about repetition of sound, not simply of letters written on the page.'
Why does it work?
Studies suggest alliteration helps people better remember and recall information. The recall benefits span a range of applications, including brand names (Coca-Cola, Kit-Kat, Double Decker, Krispy Kreme, Range Rover), fictional characters (Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Porky Pig, Tony The Tiger) or as we recently showed you with McDonald's, out-of-home advertising.
Tesco's crafty use of alliteration:
I've photographed the below headlines from the most recent two editions of Tesco's food magazine (August & September 2022). Click on each to enlarge.
To understand why a mega brand like Tesco commits so zealously to alliteration, let's consider the wise words of growth marketing company Mapplinks:
'The magic of Alliterations is always in the background. The consumer almost never outrightly observes it, but if alliteration is missing, then it definitely makes the void echo.'
To evidence this, consider how uncomfortably jarring the below word pairings feel:
1: Bugs Rabbit
2: Timmy Mouse
3: Andy the Tiger
Admit it, you never want to see those pairings again, do you?
The principle of fluency suggests that our brains don’t like to work, and prefer things that are easy to process. 'Bugs Bunny', for example, is a pleasingly rhythmic name thanks to the repeated 'B' sound. Likewise, the repetition of 'M' in 'Mickey Mouse' make it a satisfyingly friction-free name to say and remember. Comparatively, Timmy Mouse is just awkward.
In the above magazine clippings, I'd like to give special mention to Hellmann's Mayonnaise for their two uses of alliteration in one ad:
1: 'KING OF COLESLAW' (repetition of a hard 'K' sound)
2: '... creamiest, crunchiest coleslaw...' (sustained repetition of a hard 'c' sound)
And finally, the below advert is an exquisite example of what we call 'alliteration stack' — where alliteration is used generously in a free-flowing and continuous manner:
Look at all those similar sounds!
TECHNIQUE 2: RHYMES
What is a rhyme?
Your heart just sank, didn't it? You genuinely thought I was going to explain what a rhyme is. Next subheading, please.
Why rhymes work?
In a study of brand slogans and social advertising, rhymes were rated as more likeable, more original, easier to remember, more suitable for campaigns, more persuasive and more trustworthy than their non-rhyming equivalents.
I'm rather fond of this article by Neuromarketing. It references one of history's biggest murder trials, during which, an estimated global audience of 100 million people watched the defendant's lawyer say: "If the gloves don't fit, you must acquit!".
Did the lawyer accidentally stumble across this wonderfully poetic (and somewhat perfect) rhyme? I think not. I'd bet my beloved home speaker system he spent days, possibly weeks, crafting that.
Tesco's crafty use of rhyme:
Again, these headline examples are lifted from the two most recent editions of Tesco's food magazine. Click to enlarge.
The greatest irony of using rhymes in Marketing is that despite it sometimes feeling uncomfortably juvenile, no living human is safe against its power, not even the most esteemed panel of professional adults, as illustrated when a rhyme we wrote for our solicitor firm client won them an industry award.
In summary... use rhymes, they work most times.
Is it a coincidence that Liz Truss is our new Prime Minister?
To understand the power of alliteration and rhyme, see below for the campaign slogans of the final eight candidates that competed to lead the Conservative party following Mr Johnson's 2022 resignation. Pay close attention to the slogans of the two most successful candidates: Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.
Candidate: Kemi Badenoch
Campaign slogan: Kemi for Prime Minister
Candidate: Suella Braverman
Campaign slogan: Suella 4 Leader
Candidate: Jeremy Hunt
Campaign slogan: Win Back Trust
Candidate: Penny Mordaunt
Campaign slogan: PM4PM
Candidate: Rishi Sunak
Campaign slogan: Ready For Rishi
Candidate: Liz Truss
Campaign slogan: Liz For Leader
Candidate: Tom Tugendhat
Campaign slogan: Tom: A Clean Start
Candidate: Nadhim Zahawi
Campaign slogan: NZ4PM
Why are 6 of these slogans terrible?
Here at ICONS & MACHINES, we're experts at crafting words that capture the public's heart and attract the media's attention. We get brands on TV, on the front cover of newspapers and profiled by influential websites every day, so please excuse us while we assert that 6 of those slogans are technically awful. Why? Because they lack any recognised persuasion or recall technique. I recently showed you why Boris Johnson's Marketing team are experts in persuasion, and frankly, I'm convinced Mr Sunak and Mrs Truss studied their manual.
Let's revisit both slogans:
'Ready For Rishi'
(repetition of the 'R' sound PLUS a rhyme!)
'Liz For Leader'
(repetition of the 'L' sound)
Simple. Proven. Successful.
Of the original eight candidates, which two made the final party vote? Sunak and Truss.
So, my closing question to you is this...
.. if grown adults campaigning to be Prime Minister (and the UK's biggest supermarket chain) are perfectly comfortable deploying rhymes in their Marketing, why aren't you?
During your next Marketing refresh, try it, please try it... otherwise, my pathetic sexless university experience was all in vain.
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