1. Fear of Pain
A countdown of five creates an intimidating sense of urgency that can be traced in American culture to "A Charlie Brown Christmas," a 1965 animated television special based on the comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz. The global popularity of this Peabody and Emmy award-winning animated TV special has firmly entrenched "five" as a list number that attracts the attention of our inner Linus – and it has been proven to make us pay attention.
2. Research Confirms It
Google invested more than $30 million to confirm what we all pretty much knew. If it comes in a five, it can make a lot of fast impact on culture. From the Osmonds and Jackson Five to New Edition and New Kids On the Block to NSYNC and Backstreet Boys, content providers have taken the lessons of opportunistic music producers in mingling together five random things only to see the ROI go through the roof.
Want proof? Here are the Mills Brothers, whose 1931 recording "Hold That Tiger" was a #1 hit and it would still be on the charts today if it weren't for the fact that there were only four members of the band. Listen.>
3. Because It's a High FIVE!
It's so good you don't even need another person. Content best practices change continually. As the parameters of media consumers' attention spans further shrink, to make your five-point listicle even more effective, make it brief. Three is not only the new five, but three is a top contender for this year's Person of the Year at Time magazine.
It's not a super bowl ad. You won't find it in a book of the world's great ads. Apple had nothing to do with it.
But this televised cornhole competition is the best marketing. Why? It's a simple split screen. On one half of the screen – the competitors. The other half – the cornhole board, complete with the sponsor's logo.
In what other televised sport does the viewer stare, just stare, at the sponsor logo?
If you put a logo on an NBA backboard, you're still looking all over the place.
Only in sharpshooting or archery would you have a spot for a logo to be constantly watched – then, of course, blown apart – as if all the contestants were disgruntled former employees.
Kudos to Johnsonville for finding the perfect sport to sponsor, one in which the participants can hold the beanbag in one hand and a beer in the other, with rounds brief enough that the bratwurst doesn't burn.
Remember the parents who provided their kids with smoke and drink. "I'd rather they got it from me than from some stranger who's up to God-to-knows-what," they'd say.
(A letter to me from the president.)
Dear Mark M.,
I didn't write everything down.
#6 was nod – you don't see that on the list.
It's a strange week in my country. Children are screaming their brains out at us with the simple request: "Please protect us from getting shot in our schools!"
I am embarrassed that they have to. I am inspired that -- maybe, maybe -- this will be the overdue adjustment, and the nation as a whole can respect the 2nd Amendment as it was intended.
I have apologized to many young adults in their teens and 20s for the mess we have dumped on their laps — the dysfunctional adult leadership in Washington, the surrender to idiotic gun lust — and so on.
With that, I also reserve hope that they will, in a rebellion powered by disgust at their elders' inabillty to cooperate as professional adults, do the opposite when they come to power. Solve or, at least soothe problems.
I give up on today’s politicians. The ones who are afraid of gun nut voters and the NRA are cowards. They know it, too. But they can live with it.
The Columbine shootings shocked us. Each subsequent shooting numbed us more and more. Now high schoolers are screaming their brains out: “What WRONG with you!?” Nothing provokes action more than anger that comes from being duped into thinking someone’s in charge — and they are not.
“We’re children,” surviving high school student David Hogg, 17, told CNN. “You guys are the adults. You need to take some action and play a role. Work together. Come over your politics and get something done.”
If I have any thoughts and prayers, it’s in hope that his last sentence comes true.
Four senior level executives stand on a bare stage facing the audience.
From left to right they speak.
Executive #1 (Steps toward and speaks to audience):
What shithole country did YOUR grandfather come from?
Lights to black.
It’s snowy and icy outside. A few days ago, we’d all be declaring this a winter wonderland.
For the obvious reason, songs about Christmas stop when Christmas is over. For no good reason at all, songs about winter also stop at Christmas, just when winter is moving into second gear.
It’s time we put a halt to this. January is blah. We need to reject this. But this is not just a job for one man. I need all your help. Join me on this freezing, snowy January 12 to be the ones who stand up and say NO to the illogical decree that winter music cannot be played after Christmas. Fun winter music shall not stop at Christmas. It shall stop only when the last snowman melts!
It’s that time of year when I like to share my history of Christmas in five 1-minute plays. Here’s another…
A Hotel Clerk Changes Christian History By Acting Like One, or, “Now What Goes UNDER the Tree?”
(A new comedy by Neil Simon Peter)
Lights up slowly on the lobby of small inn. Faded, chipped sign says, “Inn of Bethlehem.” Fresher, newer hand-painted sign – with misspelling — says, “Welcome Censis Travellers.”
Man behind desk leans back in chair, dozing. Young couple, Joseph and Mary, enter wearily. Young woman is extremely pregnant. They do not speak, but their noise upon entering startles the hotel clerk, who responds comically, knocking over cup. He grumbles and gripes as he reaches for a cloth to clean up the spill.
We are sorry.
Not as sorry as me. I have to tell you, we’re all booked.
Joseph & Mary are defeated, exhausted.
Everybody is full. (Sighs.) Can my wife at least sit for a moment?
Of course. Are you here for the census?
What else? Looks like it’s good for your business.
And bad for mine. I have twelve chairs to build. The wood is in Galilee. But I am here.
Mary becomes still. She has quickly fallen asleep. Both men notice and are quiet.
She’s at peace.(Pause.) My friend from Galilee, I have a little space in the back, if you don’t mind a friendly sheep or two…
Mary’s sleep deepens, her breathing is louder, nearly a snore. Joseph’s head hangs in weariness.
What am I saying! You’ll take my room. It’s the best in the inn.
The best? I have very little money.
Consider it an early Christmas present.
Lights fade with Mary’s rhythmic breathing the only sound against a backdrop of stillness.
See the other four 1-minute Christmas plays here.
Mark Morelli is a New York Times Bestseller reader.