The (inverse) power of 3

Spend even a small amount of time watching TV and you’ll run into commercials in which an advertiser uses three actors to portray the range of diversity in the population that uses its products or services. One after another, each of the three “characters” looks into the camera and intones the same line of dialog.

“It’s great!”

If you’re like us, you’d rather listen to the beeping backup alarm on a dump truck as it shifts into reverse gear than sit through one of these commercials. Nothing says, “We’re convinced you’re not paying attention and need to be hit over the head to get the point” like that much repetition.

Don’t confuse this cutesy bit of mock drama with the way infomercials and direct-response ads repeat their toll-free numbers two or three times. That tactic’s purely designed to make you remember the number long enough to dial it, or at least to write it down. By contrast, the three-peat dialogue is supposed to signify that thoughtful, respectable people buy the argument behind the advertiser’s pitch. Kind of like the boss who smiles and nods when s/he gives orders.