Repetition: six alternative ways to use it

Repetition can make you want to sing, laugh, empathise or remember something.

It can also, as advertisers, sales and marketing people know, stimulate the must-have or buy-soon neuron in our brains. I believe it’s somewhere at the back, near the lame excuse gland in the male and the chocolate node in the female.

I was reminded recently of the fun to be had with repetition on seeing that old Apple ad from lordy knows when: What if “what if” isn’t enough?

Repetition of What If in Apple ad

It also got me thinking about repetition beyond ads, emails and the net, so I decided to see what I could up with on this morning’s walk.

(A pair of hare, three deer; the former lolloping along, unwilling to break into a searing sprint and burn off their breakfast unless absolutely necessary; the latter, stock-still in the frozen field, trying to be invisible).

So without further ado, some random recollections around repetition. I came up with six by the time I got home.

Repetition when it’s funny…

Strictly speaking not really an ad as such, more of a mickey-take.

K-tel records never stick. Never stick. Never stick.

Well, we thought it was jolly funny at school.

Typically, the next one was Monty Python. From Monty Python and The Holy Grail.

Repetition of Camelot in Monty Python and The Holy Grail




It’s only a model.

Why is that so funny. I think it might be the fervour followed by the curmudgeonly put-down. (You can see it again here)

(Which film is where the actor says something like, “Despair I can take, it’s the hope that I can’t bear!”? Please let me know if you do.)

When it’s literary…

The obvious one is from Tom Stoppard’s 1966 Edinburgh Festival Fringe play (no, I wasn’t there, cheers for that) Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead.

Rosencrantz: What are you playing at?

Guildenstern: Words, words. They’re all we have to go on.

(It was about two bit parts stuck in a plot they couldn’t get out of. Or something like that.)

Repetition when it’s literary – and enchanting

Some supernatural force drew Kitty’s eyes to Anna’s face. She was enchanting in her simple black dress, enchanting were her full arms with the bracelets on them, enchanting her firm neck with its string of pearls, enchanting her curly hair in disarray, enchanting the graceful, light movements of her small feet and hands, enchanting that beautiful face in its animation; but there was something terrible and cruel in her enchantment.

Yep, you got it. Anna Karenina (1878) by Leo Tolstoy. Six uses, again and again, of ‘enchanting’. In just 60 words.

When it’s rather gloomy

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day…

(Macbeth by William Shakespeare)

Repetition when it’s very fun

James Taylor’s song, Jellyman Kelly. A verse and the chorus for your delectation.

Here’s a song about Jellyman Kelly,
He loves jelly the most.
Ah, but most of all,
Jellyman Kelly loves jelly on toast.

Oh, can he come home, Jenny,
Can he come home, Jenny, can he come?
Oh, can he come home, Jenny,
Can he come home, Jenny, can he come?

Watch how much the children get into and enjoy singing along with James Taylor.

Repetition in Jellyman Kelly

Thanks for being here.

Follow my copywriting blog:

PS I wrote this post without saying resonate. Well, almost.