You can improve memorability and aid recall using expressions, phrases or headlines that rhyme. This is known as the Keats Heuristic.

The Keats heuristic occurs because of a combination of the qualities of words that rhyme (we like the way they sound) and the fluency heuristic (it’s easy for our brains to process the information).

Two psychologists, Matthew McGlone and Jessica Tofighbakhsh based at Lafayette College, Pennsylvania in 1999 found that individuals evaluate rhyming statements as being more truthful than those that aren’t.


Richard Shotton has also conducted an experiment, along with a colleague, Alex Thompson.

They adapted McGlone and Tofighbakhsh’s test to quantify the effect of rhyme on memorability. They showed colleagues a list of 10 statements, half of which rhymed and half that didn’t. After five minutes, they asked them to return at the end of the day and list as many of the phrases as possible.

The results were conclusive. Across a week, 36 people read 180 rhyming statements and 180 non-rhyming ones. They were twice as likely to remember the rhyming ones. 29% of the rhyming statements were recalled compared to only 14% of the non-rhyming ones.


There are lots of examples of the Keats Heuristic in advertising:

  • ‘Grace. Space. Pace.’ – Jaguar
  • ‘P-p-p…pick up a Penguin.’ – Penguin biscuits
  • ‘Beanz. Meanz. Heinz.’ – Heinz baked beans
  • ‘We all adore a Kia-Ora.’ – Flavoured soft drink
  • A Mars a day helps you work rest and play

There have also been some behaviour changing campaigns from the Government, including:

  • Coughs and Sneezes spread diseases
  • See it. Say it. Sorted.
  • Catch it. Bin it. Kill It.
Keats Heuristic a Mars a day
Keats heuristic Coughs and sneezes
Keats heuristic - catch it bin it kill it

What is Behavioural Science?

Behavioural Science has been around since the 60s. It blends elements of psychology and economics to identify the mental triggers, or bias, nudges and heuristics, that affect the decisions people make.

This blog series is your go-to guide for a snapshot into what these triggers are, and how they can be used in marketing to influence consumer behaviour.

The Behaviours Agency

We’re a creative agency that uses behavioural science to create impactful ideas and experiences for retailers and brands. We call it creativity informed by behavioural science. If you want to know more about how do this, get in touch now.