Say it three times and I’ll remember (or ignore)

The radio station I listen to is growing an annoying habit. Some time in the past, radio commercials would give their spiel for 27 seconds and spend 3 seconds giving us their phone number. Then some time after that, companies realized that people may not be able to write the entire phone number down after hearing it only once while they’re driving or looking for a piece of paper or something. To combat this, they decided to say the phone number twice. So, now they’re spieling for 24 seconds and giving the phone number for 6 seconds. I think this is a reasonable and smart move. Before long, nearly all radio commercials were giving the number twice.

Then some marketing genius is running late on a deadline and on the way to a meeting with his boss decides that saying the number THREE times will drive it home even better. “People just don’t listen when we only say it twice! Anyone that’s on the fence will finally decide that they NEED to call after they hear the number for the third time!” The boss agrees and now we have a company giving the phone number THREE times in one commercial. For those counting, that’s 21 seconds of spiel and 9 seconds of phone number. Other companies listening to the radio hear their commercial play and the number is given twice, and then a commercial comes on and the number is given THREE times! “Whoa,” they say, “THREE times must be better if this company is doing it!” Before long, over half of radio commercials were giving the number THREE times.

I’m sure you can see the next part coming.

Somehow someone thinks that bigger numbers are just always better than smaller ones. Of course since this is true, then we know that if a person hears a phone number FOUR times, then they’re 33% more likely to call that number than if they only heard the number THREE times. It naturally follows that these someones have to give their phone number FOUR times in one radio commercial. Yah, that’s 18 seconds of spiel and 12 seconds of phone number.

Where does that leave me, the poor radio listener? I feel like I’m being shot at with a number machine gun. It holds 9 digits in each clip. I cringe with each digit fired. I immediately dislike and am wary of any company that repeats a number FOUR times. THREE times is borderline. I can only hope that companies don’t find a reason to fire five volleys in one commercial. They may actually hit me once or twice.

(A funny thing about this is that one of the first commercials that said the number four times was for short term memory and concentration improvement pills. Do they know their prospective clientele or what?)

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