Made to Stick explains why some ideas become popular, while others wither and die.
The book lays out the most important characteristics of “stickiness”; that is, what makes ideas “stick” in the mind, and how to make them work for you.
Great ideas aren’t always successful. Often, even magnificent insights go unrewarded and wind up gathering dust in file cabinets.
At the same time, far less worthy ideas like rumors and urban legends spread like wildfire.
Take, for example, the panic in America regarding adulterated Halloween candy. Millions of parents worried that unknown villains were giving their children candy laced with poison or razor blades.
What they didn’t know was that the story was a baseless urban myth.
But why do stories like this spread so quickly? And why are they so hard to stamp out?
Quite simply, they share two key qualities: they are memorable and people are eager to pass them onward.
By taking advantage of these two principles, any idea can be designed so that it’s sticky and popular.
A few years ago in America, certain health groups wanted to raise awareness of the fact that movie popcorn – at the time prepared with coconut oil – contained extraordinarily high amounts of saturated fat, making it extremely unhealthy.
Simply telling consumers that a bag of popcorn contained 37 g of saturated fat proved ineffective – the number was too dry and academic to stick in people’s minds.
So they tried something stickier:
“A medium-sized ‘butter’ popcorn at a typical neighborhood movie theatre contains more artery-clogging fat than a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, a Big Mac and fries for lunch, and a steak dinner with all the trimmings – combined!”
This vivid message stuck, spread, and eventually led to the replacement of coconut oil with healthier alternatives by all major American cinema chains.