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Why 21 Is the New 7

Danette Amstein

Reading Time: 3 minutes
Most of us have heard the adage that you have to repeat something seven times before it really sticks. From a marketing lens, that’s old news. In today’s landscape where ads, emails and content, content, content seep into every part of our lives, researchers say that it takes hearing, reading or seeing a message closer to 21 times for it to stick. Think about that – every product attribute, every brand story, every dinner idea needs to be heard 21 times before consumers remember the details.

None of us are going to watch the same ad 21 times. We will change the channel to avoid the commercial or scroll past the online ad. Simply repeating the message doesn’t work, we have to get creative in how we share our message if we want to catch the attention of consumers in different ways and in different spaces.

Here I’ve included some great integrated marketing campaigns to help us all think differently about reaching our target in multiple ways.

One cool example of this was done by Hershey’s during fall 2020. Looking toward Halloween knowing that chocolate sales were likely to be down due to COVID-19 keeping trick-or-treaters inside, the company launched a campaign within Snapchat to attract young consumers to the brand. A special Snapchat “lens” allowed users to play an arcade-style game and collect Hershey’s candies. Upon completion of the game, they were eligible to receive a Hershey’s “Halloween Haul” of candy. This campaign generated sales 30 times what they spent on the campaign and blew away Snapchat benchmarks for play times with games.

Games are a great way to “hack” the consumer attention span and keep them engaged longer. This is imperative as the length of the normal attention span keeps getting shorter. In 2000, Microsoft clocked the human attention span at around 12 seconds. In 2015, it was down to 8 seconds. Today, it is about six seconds.

Another way to keep consumers’ attention longer is to get them to engage with your ad directly. An alternative drink brand, Recess, showcased this last summer in a pop-up shop in New York City’s Nolita neighborhood. Recess is a drink that helps people “feel calm, focused and creative despite the world around them.” The pop-up happened as the United States was emerging from COVID shutdowns, so the brand played into this by offering a printed zine (a small, printed magazine), “The Recess Guide to Re-Entering Society.” Of course, part of that guide included being well-stocked with Recess to help calm anxiety around the transition.

The pop-up had about 2,000 attendees over a three-day period, more than 3,000 cans of Recess were handed out, “thousands” of zines were taken and a “significant number” of photos were snapped, leading to user-generated content. In addition to the time spent at the actual pop-up, consumers took physical reminders of the brand with them in the form of the drink, the zine and potentially the feeling of calm the drink brought on.

Imagine how much closer Recess now is to hitting that “21 impressions” mark with the giveaway items.

Another way to get those impressions in naturally is to activate a campaign on several different platforms. Jif® peanut butter partnered with the rapper Ludacris for exactly this kind of advertisement last year.

Inspired by a social listening insight that the new generation of rappers sound like they’re singing “with a mouth full of peanut butter,” Jif signed on Ludacris (long known for his clear annunciation), who nobody expected to join the “mumble rap” craze. Step one of the activation was Ludacris releasing a single where he is mumble rapping, followed by a music video and a TikTok challenge. Street artists were tapped to design an album cover for the single and a special edition jar. This was all amplified across TV, online video, outdoor advertising, social, search and Spotify channels.

The TikTok element of this campaign is important to note. Today, a lot of new music is first heard on TikTok, but consumers are not simply listening to music there, they’re building on it. So Jif and Ludacris invited TikTok users to develop their own Jif-inspired sounds and raps, which further amplified their message. As a result, Jif boosted category share by 3.4 points at the expense of Skippy® and private label, giving the brand its highest category share in more than 10 years. Volume and dollar share for Jif was at a 10-year high by the end of 2021. Through one campaign, TikTok users may have ended up with dozens of user-generated Jif ads on their feeds in the form of Ludacris-inspired raps, easily surpassing the 21 times needed to get their message across.

Connecting with consumers regularly on the platforms they’re using can be challenging. And hitting them with that same message over and over again can feel exhausting. Know that you’re going to get tired of hearing your message before they do. While these examples may be from big brands with billion-dollar ad budgets, part of what makes these ads work is simply that they met their consumers where they already are. Getting on those platforms and sharing your message repeatedly but creatively will set any meat brand apart. Consumers today want more information about the brands and companies behind their food so they’ll listen if we meet them where they are with our message. Just remember that sometimes, it takes a mouth full of peanut butter to cut through the noise and be heard.

This content originally appeared in Meatingplace.

About the Author

Danette is a Managing Principal based in our Mooresville office. Together with Michael Uetz, she develops and carries out the strategic direction and vision for Midan. In addition, she works closely with our meat industry clients to outline effective strategies based on their business goals, and then oversees the execution of tactics to ensure those goals are not just met, but surpassed. Danette’s lifelong love for the meat industry started on her family’s farm in Kansas, deepened during her involvement with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and state beef organizations and continues today with her passionate work for our clients. A well-respected thought leader in the meat industry, she speaks at conferences, writes social content postings, and blogs for Meatingplace. Married to Todd, she is a proud parent of a son and daughter, is a diehard Kansas State Wildcats fan, loves chocolate and still drives a combine when she goes home to Kansas for the annual wheat harvest.
Danette Amstein