“I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up…”

By: Dan Kennedy on: September 21st, 2014 10 Comments

“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”

You probably recognize this popular catch phrase from the television commercial for Life Alert… or perhaps from the comedic punchlines that have become a part of pop culture as a result.

In fact, it’s probably one of the most recognized slogans of all time.

The original commercial for Life Alert, a personal medical-alert system, showed an elderly woman who had fallen. The woman pushes a button on the Life Alert pendant she’s wearing around her neck. Instantly connected to a 24-hour medical response team, she says, “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

Bad acting made the commercial the butt of many jokes, however the company probably got the last laugh as it has obviously been an effective way to sell their product for more than 24 years. They continue to run versions of that same commercial and even made the popular catch phrase a registered trademark.

Now the company is running a new version of the commercial that is very realistic.

In fact, it’s so realistic some say it is scarier than stuff they watch on TV.

The new ad shows an empty house while playing eerie music. It pans different objects and scenes inside the empty house. In the background you can hear a woman whimpering. Just outside her window, a couple plays with a dog. And then it pans to a woman lying at the bottom of the basement stairs, crying for help.  The commercial then shows a screen that says, “When You Fall and Cannot Get Up, an ACCIDENT can turn into a TRADEGY!”

So the question is –how does the same catch phrase used by the same company for more than two decades continue to be so effective at selling their product?

And how is it that it worked when in a really bad commercial as well as in the new very realistic, very well scripted and produced one?

This seems contradictory.

Especially when you think about how bad the original commercial was.

As I alluded to above, the original commercial has been ridiculed, insulted, and referenced many times over by comedians.

The new one on the complete opposite end of the spectrum has been called disturbing and too believable.

The reason this phrase works so well—whether the ad is well scripted, acted and produced or not, is that the premise—“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” is a real fear.

Elderly people fear losing their independence.

Family members of elderly parents fear something will happen to their loved one, with no phone nearby, and no one to hear their cries for help.

In other words, it taps into a fear that already exists.

There is no need to convince someone that this is a possibility. No need to go into a lengthy or even a real story about it happening to someone. People already know this possibility exists.

I’m going to say that again, because this is a HUGE key to a successful ad.

Tap into an emotion—a storyline that is already running inside your prospect’s head.

Although fear is certainly a popular emotion you’ve seen in ads such as the anti-smoking commercials or political campaigns, there are many other emotions and storylines that you can tap into as well.

For example, online dating services tap into the “happily ever after” story that already exists in people’s heads.

Car commercials often tap into the idea of having something that everyone else wants, but is uniquely yours.

There is always an emotional storyline that is playing in your prospect’s head. The key is to figure out what that emotional storyline is (hint: there might be more than one) and then engage your prospect with words that tap into it. When you do, that’s when you’ll make the sale.

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Dan Kennedy is internationally recognized as the 'Millionaire Maker,' helping people in just about every category of business turn their ideas into fortunes. Dan's "No B.S." approach is refreshing amidst a world of small business marketing hype and enriches those who act on his advice. For more money-making marketing tips, tactics and strategies, go to www.GKIC.com

10 Responses

  1. Gary Owen says:

    Hi Dan
    How are the horses?
    I think you have lost your way a bit
    Get back to magnetic marketing

    All the best

    Gary Owen

  2. Wow! This is so powerful. I just did a video of “The Letter” exercise that we did with Dave at the Boot Camp in Phoenix for my website. Your comments made me think of a phrase I hear from my diabetic patients all the time: ” My feet hurt and burn so bad at night when I’m in bed I wish I could just cut them off”. Dan I will most definitely use this emotional connection as I start my marking campaign for my diabetic neuropathy treatment center. Thanks a TON!

  3. Rick Harmon says:

    That catch phrase was written by my longtime friend, David Avrick. It’s still just as relevant, 24 years years!

  4. Mike Searles says:

    … and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a writer’s prompt for finding where those emotions may come from …

    – self-actualization
    – esteem
    – love/belonging
    – safety (I’ve fallen and I can’t get up)
    – physiological

    “Tap into an emotion—a storyline that is already running inside your prospect’s head.” is wisdom beyond measure from Dan Kennedy.

  5. Louis Ellman says:

    This ad works because people get a release by having a laugh at the expense of the victim but secretly they know that could be them sooner or later. By laughing with others they deny the inevitable (growing older) but internally they know they are looking at a future that could be a reality all too soon and they do pay attention to what is being sold and the problem it solves.
    Great article

  6. Jessup says:

    Hey Dan, saw a clip of one of those races you do. Was that you that was shot 50 feet in the air after the wagon broke?

    Really looked kool!

  7. David Hunter says:

    Gotta run with the emotions!

    Here’s an anti-drinking commercial by Budweiser that taps into a big emotion…


  8. David Hunter says:

    Hmm… not sure if my other comment went through…

    Here’s a great anti-drinking commercial by Budweiser that hits a huge emotion…


  9. Gold says:

    When the fallen indicates that they have fallen and can not get up, don’t we know that when we go to that persons funeral? Get real.

    We are discussing a persons pending death!

    If the fallen gets or is helped up then does the “can not get up” part apply?

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