Made to Stick

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 February, 2009, 12:00am

Made to Stick
by Chip and Dan Heath
Arrow Books, HK$136

Why do we remember urban myths but often forget or ignore useful information? We may readily regurgitate rubbish - that the Great Wall of China is visible from the moon - but find it difficult to recall, for instance, the recommended daily allowance of iron for an adult (14mg). Brothers Chip Heath (a Stanford University professor at the Graduate School of Business) and Dan Heath (a publisher) demonstrate why some ideas stick while others are quickly forgotten. Using easy examples, they show how, among other things, the elements of surprise, credibility and concreteness can be used to create effective messages. Focusing on core messages is also important, which for journalists means not 'burying the lead'. It is also why James Carville's 'It's the economy, stupid', performed so well for Bill Clinton. Successful advertisements feature heavily in Made to Stick, such as that created by the US non-profit Ad Council that pictured eggs sizzling and the message: 'This is your brain on drugs'. The exercises are a tad tedious but readers should enjoy the stories, which, as the Heaths prove, are another way to grab and hold someone's attention.