—Mark Prus, NameFlashSM

A few years ago, Procter & Gamble launched the Olay Total Effects line, and introduced us to “Anti aging skin care products that moisturize and fight seven signs of aging.” In case you don’t know, the “seven signs of aging” are “look of fine lines and wrinkles, rough texture, uneven skin tone, surface dullness, appearance of prominent pores, noticeability of age spots, and dryness.”

Interesting. And wouldn’t you know it, Olay Total Effects works on all seven signs of aging (imagine that).

The skeptic in me thought that maybe there were more signs of aging that Olay was not designed to work on, but I let it go, figuring that I was not an expert on skin care.

The skeptic came back when I noticed Iams advertising that provided “Seven Signs of Healthy Vitality.” Iams is another Procter & Gamble product. Hmmm.

And guess what…Head & Shoulders (another P&G product) has “Seven Benefits”…fights dryness, calms itching, relieves irritation, reduces redness, controls oiliness, removes flakes, and beautiful hair.

And there are other P&G brands who have dabbled with the “Number Seven” mystique.

So what is the magic in the number seven?

I will confess, I have no inside connection to P&G and frankly really don’t know why so many brands at P&G are drawn to “seven things.” But I am a pretty good student of human nature and can make some educated guesses.

Let’s roll through the numbers…

ONE OR TWO – No, this won’t work as ONE means you really only do one thing and so that is not enough. Same with TWO.

THREE OR FOUR OR FIVE – Now we are talking. When you can say three to five good things about your product, then you are saying something. What is wrong with 3, 4 or 5? One theory is when you say 3, 4 or 5 things people can remember them and can fact check all of them. Sometimes that is good. But when you dig into the “seven” that P&G brands use, you find that some of them are a little “squishy” and may not stand up to scrutiny.

SIX – We are getting there…but SIX is a funny number. And there are some bad connotations to multiples of six.

SEVEN – Ahhh. Schoolhouse Rock taught us that “three is a magic number” but the reality is SEVEN is the magic number. I will explain in a minute. But from a scientific standpoint, it has been proven that SEVEN of anything is about all that the human brain can comprehend in one chunk, which is why phone numbers are seven digits long.

EIGHT OR ABOVE – More than SEVEN and the human brain shuts down.

So why is SEVEN the magic number? I think it is because of two reasons:

1. It sounds like a lot so people are impressed

2. It is so many that people won’t fact check each one

OK, maybe it is the skeptic in me again. But the proof is in the pudding. Go to the Total Effects page or the Head & Shoulders page and read the “SEVEN”…then go do something else for 15 minutes, then try to recall the SEVEN reasons…I bet you won’t get more than half right.

But SEVEN sounds like a lot of good things, doesn’t it?