SpongeBob and Message Recall

My first post here since moving to the great north a.k.a. Canada. I’ll try my best to leave out the eh! in my writing.

Today i am adding a new category to Marketwala called MEMORY. As you may imagine memory plays a very important part in a marketing message. The reason we have supremely annoying advertisements and amazingly smart ones is because the marketer is trying to help us recall the message.

To create a effective message we need to understand how it will be consumed.

On the theory side a message needs to follow a certain route so that it may be recalled effectively, lets call this memory processes and stages. (Before we dive into the process if you need to review definitions for some of the words used please scroll to the end of this post.)

Memory can be described as a reconstructive process. Imagine a million light bulbs arranged in a grid. Each bulb on its own can only remember two things, the on and off state. But the whole grid together can form various shapes.

Memory works in a similar manner, cells in our brain create patterns when our senses are stimulated. When we try and recall a certain piece of information our brain attempts to reactivate the same cells in the same sequence. Just like the light grid, if one or two bulbs in non-critical places burn out the general shape still looks the same keeping most of the memory intact. On the other hand if some critical cells fail to activate crucial parts of the shape may be lost making an ‘a’ into an ‘o’.

Persuaders a popular documentary on modern advertising released by PBS quotes research that an average American is exposed to approximately 3000 messages per day. This number is continuously rising. As a consumer of these message one might be genuinely interested in some of the products and services offered. To ensure maximum retention the consumer has to process the message for later recall. As marketers we have to ensure that the message is encoded in a way to minimize the processing time for the consumer.

Here is the basic flowchart of the process on the consumer side. (click to see a larger version)

To demonstrate lets consider this website

About Black Spot Collective:
A resource for collaboration.
Doing things that are relevant.
Make an impact by discussing strategy.
Stand behind eachother’s work.
Quality Control

I have modified the lyrics of SpongeBob SquarePants theme song to create a simple marketing message for the The Black Spot Collective. If you have never heard the original theme before i suggest you find the link below and enjoy it before proceeding.

Why this theme:

  • Clients for design firms (CEO’s, marketing managers) are very likely to be married with 2 or more children
  • SpongeBob as a cartoon commands a large portion of the market share for its age group
  • Parents dont need to watch the cartoon to realize the kids are watching SpongeBob, the auditory senses are sufficiently annoyed with the first few notes
  • The theme song is really catchy.

Sing along and dont forget to visit for all your design needs.

Designer:      Are you ready world?
World:     Aye-aye Captain.
Designer:     I can’t hear you…
World:     Aye-Aye Captain!!
Designer:     Oh! Who has the mouse and tool called Marquee?
World:     Black Spot CollecTive !
Designer:     Creative, professional and quick are we!
World:     Black Spot CollecTive !
Designer:     If genius design is something you wish…
World:     Black Spot CollecTive !
Designer:     Then drop us a line we are your fish!
World:     Black Spot CollecTive !
Designer:     Ready?
EveryBody:     Black Spot CollecTive !Black Spot CollecTive !Black Spot CollecTive !
Designer:     BlackSpot…. CollecTive! Click click.

Original SpongeBob Theme song (for those uninitiated to the ways of the sea)

SpongeBob Theme without Lyrics (something to play while you sing the modified lyrics)

Marketing Lesson: As the message passes through each stage there is a potential for some loss, this is where the concept of KISS comes in a message. Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Until next time,




Stimuli: a thing or event that evokes a specific functional reaction in an organ or tissue : areas of the brain which respond to auditory stimuli.

Sensory Register: concerns memories that last no more than about a second or two. If a line of print were flashed at you very rapidly, say, for one-tenth of a second, all the letters you can visualize for a brief moment after that presentation constitute the sensory register.

Perception: to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses.

Attention: taking notice of someone or something; the regarding of someone or something as interesting or important

Encoding: processing of physical sensory input into one’s memory.

3 replies on “SpongeBob and Message Recall”

While the encoding model you present is broadly accepted (I prefer Exposure, Attention, Interpretation, but that amounts to the same thing), there is some evidence that memories are actually created at the time of recall based on the associative networks in which the stimulus has been encoded. This makes our memory more robust to the loss of cells, but also less reliable as a record of events (RadioLab did a wonderful piece on this).
So, encoding is especially important to marketers. The record itself will not persist, but the symbolic associations likely will.

very interesting, so are there any systematic strategies to influence the new memory creation? any specific encoding techniques? wanna write a guest post?

also your comments are always welcome thanks for taking the time to post.

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