Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo, the nonsense song from the animated, 1950 movie Cinderella, produced by Walt Disney, reminds me of something I read in Gustav Le Bon’s 1895 book, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind. Le Bon, and I am paraphrasing here, recounts that Napoleon stated there was only one tool in rhetoric worth anything; repetition.

In the world of business, the phrase “Repetition makes the sale” is something that has been told to sales forces again and again – repetition – to remind them of the importance of that rhetorical tool.

When it comes to public speaking, I was taught to “Tell them what you are going to tell them; tell them; and tell them what you’ve told them.” This advice does not simply serve as a guide to structuring a talk you are going to give, it emphasizes the need for repetition.

Think about successful advertising campaigns, even ones with annoying jingles or weird voices – perhaps especially ones with annoying jingles. Why do they take hold? Is the creative genius of the ad maker the main factor for driving a successful advertising campaign? Certainly, creative, well contemplated advertisements help to sell products. However, those advertisements without plenty of repetition are not going to do the job.

Repetition makes the sale.

We are so busy living our lives, doing what we must to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table, that most of our attention is focused on that. For someone or some entity to penetrate our consciousness, gain our attention and persuade us to action, they must repeat their message again and again.

Is there a danger of repeating something too much, to the point where it turns people off? I believe that is possible, but it pales in comparison to the danger of not repeating something often enough. We live in a hypercompetitive, marketing driven economy. Things often take hold in the marketplace, not because they have something of value to offer but because they are in our faces so often.

I remember Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo, a song with apparently no meaning, because I heard it so many times as a kid. If nonsense can be imprinted via repetition, what of things that are valuable and beneficial to society?

Image courtesy of [ddpavumba] /

*Authors note: You might see this column pop up online in a newspaper, under the name Both Sides. I am publishing this column here first at For a bunch of years, I have been writing newspaper columns. Since my columns have received a good response on CYInterview, I thought I would share it with you. Hope you enjoy.

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