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February 02, 2018

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Thanks, Nancy, for (again) alerting us to a phrase that long ago passed into cliche-hood -- a fact to which many marketers seem oblivious.

My aging memory is pretty sure the "one x at a time" formulation precedes the TV show. I associate it with the flower-power era, although, alas, I can't find any proof to justify my saying that. Interestingly, if you Google "changing the world one," it quickly fills in "...life at a time" and returns A LOT of results. That, as I recall, was the original version of the formulation -- although, again, I can't prove it.

I think the saying “one day at a time” was spread by Alcoholics Anonymous more than by the tv/ Netflix shows. Using it in advertising actually fits well with the organization’s usage of focusing on this one ‘x’ in front of you now in order to reach a goal/state of being.

I think the phrase may have its origins in Alcoholics Anonymous. One Day at a Time was a somewhat popular bumper sticker in the '70s, and I my mother (I was in jr high school) explained the AA meaning. When the show started, I assumed the mom character was in recovery.

As a marketing or branding device, “One X at a time” will never die. As you've pointed out, neither will “’Tis the season.”
Here's a partial list of my unrelentables:
• Some variant of "X. Because you want an A that…" ("X. Because an A should never…,")
• Some variant of "X, the A that puts it all together" with the inevitable jigsaw puzzle visual.
• Some variant of "There's only one thing that works better than X for your…," with an unexpected, ironic, but maybe literally correct visual.

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