MK 354 Spring 2010

February 16, 2010

“Fifteen Minutes”

Filed under: blog #3 — jlptzld @ 1:58 pm

Geico Auto Insurance has been successful in the development of brand awareness through various mascots including the “Geico Gecko,” its “Cavemen,” and, most recently, “The Money You Can Save.” However, the clear and consistent tagline, “In fifteen minutes, save fifteen percent or more on car insurance,” which appears in nearly all of Geico’s television advertisements, is just as significant in developing brand recognition as Geico’s mascots are.

One reason “fifteen minutes” is effective is due to its “concrete” nature. Heath and Heath explain their “concrete” principle in terms of its “tangible” nature and its avoidance of “ambiguity” (100, 104). According to Heath and Heath “it’s easier to understand those tangible actions than to understand an abstract… statement” (100). Geico’s tagline is extremely successful in its concrete nature because its message is clear, you can save money by switching your insurance policy to Geico. Furthermore, the tagline avoids ambiguity by specifying the level of time and financial commitment required by the audience.

“Fifteen minutes” also increases its tangibility when it claims a consumer could save fifteen percent with Geico. According to Heath and Heath, “concreteness… helps us construct higher, more abstract insights on the building blocks of our existing knowledge and perceptions (106). In Geico’s case, “fifteen minutes” allows an individual consumer to calculate and comprehend their specific and personalized benefit attained by switching car insurance brands. While this understanding is more difficult to achieve initially, Geico provides the stepping stone for consumers to develop more personalized and, consequently, more relevant and meaningful perceptions. “Fifteen minutes” and its concrete quality, as defined by Heath and Heath, have helped Geico stick in the minds of its audience.

Big Laundry

Filed under: blog #3 — ElizabethOstebo @ 1:52 pm

Recently, LG launched an innovative larger capacity washing machine that can hold up to 11 kilos of laundry. But exactly what is 11 kilos equivalent to? According to, 11kilos, or 24 pounds, is about the average weight of a 15 month old child. Somehow I doubt housewives across America are using their toddlers to get an estimate of how heavy the laundry loads are.

In the “Big Laundry” commercial, LG doesn’t concretely describe what a 24 pound laundry load looks like. Granted, the viewer sees oversized clothes hanging from buildings and bridges, but how does that relate to the amount that can be placed in an actual washing machine? It doesn’t have to relate because it’s not important in this context. The key point of the LG ad is the revolution of larger laundry load capacity in a standard sized machine. The main abstract concept LG explores here is innovation.

LG’s challenge is the depiction of an innovative product that is more efficient, but doesn’t look any different. In response to this predicament, the commercial makes the semi-abstract idea of a large laundry load into concrete and outrageously large articles of clothing spread around a city. The captivated passersby exemplify a reaction to something you didn’t think was possible, like the new larger laundry load capacity of washing machines.

According to Chip and Dan Heath, “If you can examine something with your senses, it’s concrete” (p.104). You can’t specifically hear, smell or taste revolutionizing washing machines. Nevertheless, we know what large laundry looks like and are now familiar with the machine that can wash your hefty amount of laundry without ruining your clothes or washing apparatus. Life sure seems good when you don’t have to worry about the hazards of overstuffing your washing machine.

A Concrete Idea from

Filed under: blog #3 — carolinerichov @ 1:08 pm

As students, there is a certain point of the school semester we dislike most- buying textbooks.  Throughout the college years we spend thousands of dollars on textbooks that are likely to be collecting dust on our bookshelves for years to come. 

A few years back, someone finally realized an opportunity in the market of textbook-buying college students.  This extremely smart individual started a place where people could rent textbooks for less than half the price of a new text.  Chegg saves its customers a great amount of money and makes it easy for them to return books in the same box they arrived in with a free return label included.  

Yes, Chegg is great- it saves us money and space on our bookshelf… but how exactly does it fit into Chip and Dan Heath’s model of concreteness?

According to the Heath brothers, concrete ideas help people understand new concepts and are easy to remember (106).  The product in itself is simple and sensible- renting a textbook for a few months is clearly going to be less costly than purchasing a book to own.  Chegg takes another step and reminds its customers that renting and re-circulating books saves hundreds of thousands of trees each year ( To make this idea concrete, Chegg teamed up with the American Forests’ Global Releaf Program so for every book rented or sold, a tree is planted. The customer is able to choose the location from a world map where they would like their tree to be planted, and is congratulated for their contribution to the environment.

Heath and Heath claim that “it is easier to understand tangible actions than it is to understand an abstract strategy” (100). By engaging the customer in the process of planting a tree, Chegg makes it concrete and easy for the customer to understand that renting books saves trees… and money.

Have It My Way

Filed under: blog #3 — mtamayo26 @ 12:58 pm

If someone were to ask me who is Burger Kings number one competition, the first and only fast-food chain I would come up with is McDonalds. So when California’s Jack in the Box challenged Burger King’s famous tagline, “have it your way,” I was a bit surprised after watching a Jack in the Box commercial when they used the line “have it my way.”

What I got from the chapter on concreteness is that it is a way to simplify what you’re talking about, to make it relevant to your audience. While some of the examples used a “show” not “tell” approach, like with the math problems, as long as your audience can visualize what you’re talking about then you’ve done your job. So with the “bucks for acres” project, instead of saying they need money to conserve 40 percent of California they broke it down to say they wanted to save 2 acres every year for 20 years.

With the Jack in the Box commercials, the commercial didn’t necessarily show you what you’d be getting if you went there instead of Burger King, but they did tell you what they offer and what Burger King does not. They made it simple, they questioned Burger King’s “have it your way” tagline, by going and asking them for what they wanted, which in this case was breakfast in the afternoon. When the Jack in the Box spokesperson was told they couldn’t have what they wanted, the spokesperson simply said you could get breakfast at their place. Their point was that you can get what you want, when you want it at Jack in the Box.

the odds say it’s time to listen:

Filed under: blog #3 — cathleendbombard @ 12:53 pm

This public service announcement sets the scene by showing a home video of a young child singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” in her living room. Her mother is sitting on the couch, coaching and singing along, for what I believe the family hopes will air on her MTV’s Behind the Music episode when she is a Broadway star.

The commercial stops, the video freezes and an announcement is made that: “1 out of 11,000 children will make it to Broadway, while 1 out of 166 will develop autism.” This is emphasized by the statistic simultaneously shown on the screen.

The message of this video is strengthened by being completely concrete. It shows that a child’s dream of being on Broadway can be highly overshadowed by the odds of developing autism. These PSA segments are concrete, because they not only show sensitive videos, but also add factual probability that children are more likely to develop autism than to become a professional baseball player, concert pianist or Broadway actor. These appalling odds make the idea of the epidemic of autism a reality, as the odds coming from the PSA are credible and clear. The audience is not only able to visualize the child, which adds a sense of sympathy, they are able to relate, due to humans’ innate sensitivity to the development of their youth.

According to the Autism Speaks website, autism is the fastest growing developmental disorder in the United States, which is a concrete fact. The concrete statistics of these PSAs detail that your dreams for your own children and the children of the future can be negated. These commercials are clear and the mission does not go awry. Because these odds are so shocking and concrete they make the difference in allowing everyone in the audience to retrieve the same message and meaning, and helps to achieve Autism Speak’s mission of bringing awareness to the public about the epidemic that is autism.

Please take a minute to visit the Autism Speaks Website:

There’s a Map For That

Filed under: blog #3 — csomerville @ 12:49 pm

In Verizon Wireless’ recent ad campaign, “there’s a map for that,” the wireless service provider states that it offers 5 times more 3G coverage than the country’s second largest wireless company, AT&T. Since Verizon made this claim in several advertisements, it’s probably something that benefits wireless consumers. However, the phrase “5 times more 3G coverage” is such an abstract concept to consumers that by itself it’s virtually meaningless. How could Verizon express to consumers that its service was better than AT&T’s in a way they could understand?

In the third chapter of “Made to Stick,” authors Chip and Dan Heath explain how making messages concrete and less abstract will help them become stickier. One example the Heaths used involved the way The Nature Conservancy (TNC) turned something intangible, concrete. TNC raises money in order to purchase land, and preserve it from being developed or significantly harmed. The Nature Conservancy faced a new challenge when it wanted to protect the Mediterranean climate areas of California. TNC couldn’t afford to buy all the land that warranted protection, so it figured out a way to protect it.

Firstly, TNC made its goals seem more realistic by changing the language. Instead of saying how many millions of acres needed to be protected, TNC said how many “landscapes” needed to be protected. As the Heaths point out, “five landscapes per year sounds more realistic than 2 million acres per year, and it’s much more concrete” (pg. 102).

Secondly, TNC went on to make landscapes more concrete by giving them names. By naming one landscape “The Mount Hamilton Wilderness,” it’s no longer just an unattractive plot of land that is of some ecological importance. People are more willing to help protect The Mount Hamilton Wilderness because it’s a defined and labeled area that sounds more interesting than it may appear. TNC made something more concrete, in order to make its message stick, and accomplish its goal.

Similarly, Verizon could inform its target audience how many more acres of land its 3G service covers than AT&T’s, but that wouldn’t show them the difference in a way they could understand. To help make the message concrete, Verizon makes the distinction between the services, by creating a visual representation using two maps of the United States. On one map, Verizon shaded all the areas that its 3G service covers, while on the other map it shaded all the areas that AT&T’s 3G service covers. The difference is stark. Verizon clearly offers more 3G services than AT&T. By using a map of the U.S., something almost everyone is acquainted with, Verizon makes a message concrete and relatable to its target audience. If the numbers don’t stick, the images certainly will.

concrete: the red umbrella

Filed under: blog #3 — Tags: , , — marissagkelley @ 12:49 pm

According to Chip & Dan Heath’s Made to Stick, the stickiest concrete idea will function in the same way as a piece of Velcro. No messy, complex concepts…just hooks and holes. This involves the transformation of abstract concepts into concrete messages.

Take Travelers Insurance, for example. According to their very thorough fact sheet, Travelers is the third largest writer of commercial U.S. property casualty insurance. Their at-a-glance blurb reads, “Travelers offers a wide variety of insurance and surety products, as well as risk management services, to numerous types of businesses, organizations and individuals. Our products are distributed primarily through U.S. independent insurance agents and brokers.”

To me, a college student still covered under my parent’s insurance, this fact sheet reads like a foreign dictionary. It is not relevant to my needs, it is confusing, and it certainly does not stick like Velcro. My personal reaction to this fact sheet illustrates a problem that faces companies like Travelers: they offer intangible services that often require explanation and serious consideration before a purchase is made. In the words of the Heath brothers, they offer an abstract service. So how does a company like Traveler’s make their message more concrete?

First, Travelers developed a simple and meaningful core message:

We help people protect the things they care about.

Then, they launched their red umbrella campaign. The clever creative team at British ad agency Fallon London took a concrete object, a red umbrella, and used it as a symbol for the Travelers service.  The commercials flow as follows: a red umbrella suspended in mid air floats whimsically above the objects that people value the most: a house, a car, a new business, and most famously, a dog’s bone. In the dog bone commercial, the adorable pooch is plagued by the fear that his most prized possession, his bone, is unprotected. The dog will not rest until, finally, Travelers insurance saves his bone and the day.

Fallon London and Travelers managed to develop a memorable and simple solution to creating a more concrete service. The red umbrella is now synonymous with Travelers core message: protecting the things you love. The end result of their efforts is a brilliant campaign and a distinct brand image.

The Most Decorated?

Filed under: blog #3 — Jackies blah-g @ 7:10 am

As America winds down for the long weekend full of Valentine’s Day flowers, Chinese New Year fortunes, and Presidents Day, the action packed weekend has definitely become intense. This past weekend, in Vancouver, Canada, the Winter Olympic Games kicked off with the lighting of the torch. The United States of America has undoubtedly made a statement and is in the lead with a total of eight medals with Germany trailing in second with a total of five medals.

            Yet, the hype of the weekend rested on the death of an Olympian and the birth of a record holder. In Short Skate for 500 meters, Apolo Ohno has become the “most decorated Olympian” of the Winter Olympics. What does that mean? Does Apolo have the best outfit of all the competitors? Did he decorate his helmut like graduates do so that we can pick him out of a group? If you are not a fan of the Winter Olympics, this statement is misleading.

            In Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath, the authors discuss the idea of being concrete. In order to make the idea “sticky,” it has to be taken out of its abstract form. Heath and Heath study the teaching strategies of mathematics teachers in America versus that of a Japanese teacher in order to have a better understanding of how abstract ideas stick. The students in Japan are more advanced at understanding the concepts of math because the teachers aid the students in building an abstract concept based on a concrete foundation. Again, it leads back to building upon schemas that already exist in the children’s minds in order to help them make more concrete connections like notebooks, pens, and school children. All the listed objects are what the students encounter in daily life.

            How does this connect to the Winter Olympics? In the case of Apolo Ohno, his achievements should be highlighted. He has now set a record and tied with a past Olympian, to have a total of six medals. The count of six medals can easily become nine medals since he has three other categories to compete in before the Olympics are over. Though he may be soon known as the new record holder to join the elite alongside Michael Phelps, the visual image of medals are easier to remember than the word “decorated.” So as we root on Ohno in his quest for the gold, we must remember that reporting the number of medals will create a visual image in a viewers mind rather than stating that he is the “most decorated Olympian.” Go Team USA!

February 15, 2010

“There’s An App For That”

Filed under: blog #3 — marissaestrada @ 11:49 pm

The best way to explain what the Heaths mean when they say writing should be “concrete” is to say that writing should show a reader an idea rather than tell a reader an idea; to turn an abstract idea into a solid one that anyone can understand. One company that has found a way to grasp concreteness perfectly is Apple, and they have portrayed this in their “There’s An App For That” iPhone 3G commercials.

The commercials fall into all three categories the Heaths have discussed thus far. These ads are simple, as they only show the iPhone itself with a hand holding it against a white backdrop and use simple, understandable language spoken by a narrator with a simple (but not monotone) voice. They are unexpected (or were at the time they were first released) because the commercials show a phone doing things other phones could not do at the time. But what is really great about these ads is the way they show the audience how the iPhone’s many applications work rather than telling the audience how they work.

By showing the audience how the phone works and what its capabilities are, Apple found a way to stick into peoples’ minds (even more stuck than they already were). “There’s an app for that” became a phrase commonly understood by most people, especially by Apple’s target audience, proving that concreteness is a successful way of making an idea “stick.”


Filed under: blog #3 — Tags: , , — pmitch1 @ 7:42 pm

It’s one thing to promise your customers to beat the price of your competitors, but by actually sending a check to your consumer, you are providing them with tangible, concrete proof of your guarantee. Orbitz has introduced the idea of sending a check to their patrons if the price of their flight/vacation package depreciates. They have coined this service, “price assurance”.

It’s hard not to have a positive response to a company when they physically send you money. For many consumers, something gets lost in translation with electronic transactions, but an actual check is a physical manifestation of Orbitz’s promise to deliver low prices. The concrete idea that Orbitz is trying to get across is that they will save you money. Although this point is communicated by their advertisements and website deals, it becomes much easier to visualize when you are physically holding money (in a form of check) in your hands.

According to Chip and Dan Heath’s book “Made to Stick”, the effectiveness of concreteness lies in the nature of our memories (p. 109). While a consumer may remember the fact that Orbitz reimbursed them for their vacation when the price was lowered, the message resonates more through the concreteness of receiving a check. Orbitz also labels this service “price assurance”. By naming the abstract concept of comparing and compiling competitive travel rates by way of a succinct phrase such as “price assurance”, it not only makes the service identifiable, it allows for the consumer to better understand and visualize the benefits of using Orbitz.

Older Posts »

Blog at