There’s a Reason Those Annoying Ads Are So Successful

By Lauren Lesniak

“Nationwide is on your side”

“Geico, 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance”

“Charmin Ultra, less is more”

Are you annoyed yet? Probably.

Do you know every single advertisement I just listed? Without a doubt.


We may hate these ads, but at the end of the day, they are extremely successful. In fact, they are often times more successful than ones that don’t annoy us.

Here are a few reasons why these annoying advertisements are so successful:


While we may be fed up with these companies irritating commercials, that’s exactly why we remember them as well as we do. For starters, each commercial has a theme where some are more prevalent than others. Humor is by far the most recurring theme because it causes people to react to the commercial rather than just passively observing it. Whether it’s physically evident that you reacted (laugh, smile, etc.) or more of an internal reaction, it is still more engagement and attention than most commercials get.

Jingles, Slogans, and Catchphrases

We pay more attention to commercials when there are catchy little tidbits.  When a commercial employs a slogan or a jingle, consumers are not only more likely to actively view and remember it, it also reinforces the consumer’s memory to recall the product and hopefully, the brand.  I like to refer to these jingles, slogans, and catchphrases as “earworms,” since we have trouble getting them out of our head once we hear them or are reminded of them.  When a commercial uses tactics that are “out there,” there is a higher chance the audience will easily recall it.  This was demonstrated through some of the Super Bowl commercials – we remember what grabs our attention the most.  

Wash, Rinse, and Repeat

When it comes to commercials, not all ads are remembered like some of those shown during the Super Bowl.  For typical everyday advertisements, the way these annoying commercials become successful is through continual exposure.  I’m sure all of us have heard of the mere exposure effect where slight exposure to a stimulus results in familiarity or preference to that stimulus.  This is what marketers and advertisers do; by exposing us more and more to the stimulus (their commercial with their brand and product), we become increasingly aware and familiar with it, which could potentially lead to preference of that compared to alternatives.

Defining Success

Most of the time when we think of success we think of increases in sales, including profit and revenue.  However, a company could see their advertisement as successful based on changes in brand awareness.  This can be either positive or negative; although with annoying commercials there are mostly negative comments.  The key that the company has to pay attention to is not the negative buzz surrounding the brand or product, but how many people are actively aware of it. This is because they are able to weasel their way into the mindset of their target market.  While it may have negative connotations when it comes to their advertisements, awareness about the product and brand allows for potential growth in the future.

Chances are that you’ll never forget about these ads because of how annoying they really are. If someone says Nationwide, Geico or Charmin in 10 years, your memory of these famous lines will be triggered instantly:

“Nationwide is on your side”

“Geico, 15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance”

“Charmin ultra, less is more”

Are you still annoyed? Probably. And that’s why they are so successful.

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