“Here’s Looking at You, Kid”

All of us can recite a few one-liners from famous movies, but what is more surprising is that many of us recall the same quotes. What makes a particular movie line memorable?
A recent study by Cornell University asked this exact question and suggests that memorable movie quotes can be explained by science. The research involved running over 2,000 movie quotes from the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) through a computer that analyzed the lines for patterns, unusual words and word combinations. The results showed that lines which followed a specific set of rules were more likely to be memorable including: using distinctive words and simple syntax; keeping it short; making the lines relatable to anyone; using present tense; and using “front sounds” such as words that start with M, P, F, B, V.
Advertising catchphrases manage to live on too. Think “Just Do It” (Nike) or “Diamonds are forever” (De Beers). While a computer can’t be relied on to construct creative witty one-liners, it can help identify whether we are on to the next big thing since “Show me the money!”

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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