Dave Trott
Feb 13, 2017

Dave Trott's blog: A good mnemonic always wins

But you have to make sure your mnemonic can’t be changed into a better mnemonic by the competition, says the author

Dave Trott's blog: A good mnemonic always wins
On the very day he was sworn in as president, Donald Trump’s first official act was to begin dismantling Obamacare.
This was one of the main platforms that got him elected.
The people that voted for him hated the very idea of Obamacare.
It exemplified everything they hated about Barack Obama.
On Twitter, one particular exchange went viral.
A Republican voter said he was glad to get rid of Obamacare.
A Democrat said he shouldn’t pick on the poor who couldn’t afford healthcare.
The Republican said he wasn’t rich himself: he depended on the Affordable Care Act, which was the newer, better version of Obamacare.
The Democrat said: Whoa, buddy, are you joking?
Don’t you know that Obamacare is just the Republican nickname for the Affordable Care Act?
The Republican said that couldn’t possibly be true.
Other Democrats joined in, laughing.
They said he couldn’t be that stupid: he’d actually voted to cancel the very thing he depended on.
Then they waited for a response, but the Republican disappeared.
He had realised that Obamacare was the name coined to insult the Affordable Care Act.
The very thing that Trump began dismantling on his first day as president.
At first I didn’t think this could be true.
Surely everyone knew Obamacare was just a nickname for the Affordable Care Act.
But then I saw a series of interviews filmed on New York streets.
People were asked which they preferred: Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act.
They responded that of course the Affordable Care Act was better: "It’s obvious just from the name."
As CNN reported in 2013: "They’re two different names for the same law, but more Americans oppose the ACA when it has the president’s name attached."
By giving it a mnemonic, Republicans made cancelling Obamacare a vote winner.
And now many Republicans have just realised what they voted for and are regretting it.
Around 30 million Americans can’t afford health insurance.
The very states that voted for Trump are the states that have the most people affected by cancelling the Affordable Care Act.
Just because it was called Obamacare.
That’s the power of a mnemonic.
In London, the bicycle-sharing scheme all over the city was begun by Ken Livingstone when he was mayor.
But the racks of bicycles aren’t known as "Ken’s Cycles".
Everyone knows them as "Boris Bikes".
And Boris Johnson will always get the credit for the idea because the alliteration makes it a better mnemonic.
For us, it’s worth remembering the power of a mnemonic.
But you have to make sure your mnemonic can’t be changed into a better mnemonic by the competition.
Zac Goldsmith was standing for election as mayor of London.
His advertising menmonic was "Back Zac".
Unfortunately, his opponent’s supporters changed the posters.
They added just two words, so it read: "Back Zack and Crack."
The better the mnemonic, the more powerful it is.
(Dave Trott is the author of Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three. This article first appeared on CampaignLive.co.uk)


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