It's a wonderful life, eventually

Danny Weisman
Jan 2023

The story of It’s A Wonderful Life is a nice reminder of how hard it is to get people to change their behavior.

The story goes that the now beloved movie, It's a Wonderful Life, was once a colossal failure at the box office. It was so bad that after 28 years, its copyright wasn’t renewed and it became a part of the public domain. A complete afterthought.

But because it cost nothing to run, TV stations aired it around the clock during the holidays, boosting its popularity. And to this day, it's the oldest film in Parrot Analytics' top 10 most watched Christmas movies, and its viewership is 11x greater than the average Christmas movie.

It basically took endless hours of TV to convince people that this was, indeed, a good movie. And once it became ingrained, it’s now impossible to dislodge.

Ultimately, frequency begets familiarity, and familiarity begets trust and popularity.

The same WSJ today had a stat that people on average have the same bank account for 17 years—longer than the average marriage. Not because people love their bank, but because they know what they’re getting.

If you’re a disruptor brand—especially those considering pulling back on marketing—keep this in mind. It takes a while to change behavior, and for people to realize what you have to say is worth saying. Once you do though, you’re hard to replace.

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