Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

The “Shaken Self”: Self-Confidence and Product Choice

June 30, 2011 2 comments

I’m always excited when science finally catches up with marketing.

M&MsA man walks into a sociologist’s office, and is asked to write a short essay highlighting his healthy life habits. He does so. Afterwards, he’s offered a choice of two small rewards for his work: an apple, or a pack of M&M’s. He makes his choice and leaves.

After that, another man walks into the sociologist’s office, and is asked to write a short essay highlighting his healthy life habits. As he’s about to begin, the sociologist asks him to write it with his non-dominant hand. After he does so, he is offered a choice between an apple or a pack of M&M’s.

This second man, who wrote with his non-dominant hand, is significantly more likely than the first to choose the apple. Why would that be?

A lot of excellent research is starting to emerge dealing with the relationship between “state” self-confidence (short term mental states) and purchasing habits. The study I’ve just referenced came out of Stanford last year. It was published in Advances in Consumer Research by Leilei Gao, S. Christian Wheeler, and Baba Shiv, and talks about the concept of the “shaken self.” Read more…


How To Use Body Rhythms to Captivate People

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment

This comes from a book that my friend clued me into, called Winning Body Language, by Mark Bowden.

One of his chapters talks about using body language to take advantage of the way our minds deal with predictability and interruption.


Results from an fMRI experiment in which peopl...

Image via Wikipedia


Pattern interruption is a fascinating topic, and this isn’t the first context where I’ve bumped into it. Here’s a brief bit of background on the concept:

Our world contains much more observable data than the brain can handle, so we take in and process far less information than is available to us. Most of our reactions to the world are based familiar patterns that our subconscious mind has been conditioned to deal with while our conscious mind tunes out.

For example, when you greet someone and shake their hand, it is entirely possible you will never remember shaking their hand at all. Handshakes are so automatic and predictable that we do it without really ever consciously acknowledging what’s going on. We have an internal model for repeated behavior based on how handshakes work, and we assume that handshakes will work identically. Our body just does it, and the rest of our mind can tune it out. We are certain about our situation, and comfortable in that certainty.

We go through the same tune-out process when commercials come on, or when we see banner ads on web sites. That’s why advertisers love the concept of pattern interruption.

Obviously, advertisers don’t want you to be doing any “tuning-out” when their ads are presented. But more than that, there are special psychological implications if you can snap someone back into conscious focus at the moment that their brain is accessing a pattern. If you create uncertainty right at that moment, your subconscious mind gets cut off in the middle of what it was doing, and that creates a couple seconds of hyper-awareness and disorientation. Read more…

-Your Ads Don’t Work on Me. -Oh, Yes They Do…

August 19, 2010 2 comments

Advertising is more effective than you think

Some fascinating information coming from Psyblog this week on the effectiveness of persuasion.

In an entry called, “The Third Person Effect,” Psyblog author and University College researcher Jeremy Dean shows us how we are not as invulnerable to advertising messaging as we think we are.

Ever since advertising became truly popular, consumers have generally maintained that while they can understand how advertising would have an effect on others, it cannot possibly have an effect on them. They are too savvy, and too in-control of their mental faculties to be influenced by such ham-handed messaging.

Dean reviewed work by Richard M. Perloff and Bryant Paul (et. al.), who themselves reviewed over thirty studies on people’s attitudes on advertising influence. He found that:

… participants thought others would be influenced by the message, but that they themselves would remain unaffected. When psychologists looked at the results, though, it was clear that participants were just as influenced as other people. This was dubbed the ‘third-person effect’. Read more…

Come to Marketing, Where Stereotyping is Still Encouraged

July 27, 2010 2 comments

There are two very noticeable constants that connect the 60’s advertising world of Mad Men to the modern ad agency: 1) the actual agency names, which are mostly still around, and 2) the permissibility of flagrant and often pejorative stereotyping as a means of doing effective business.

“Oh, we’ll give them this new thing, and they’ll all love it. They always do.”

I went to school in the time of the political correctness movement, and then finally settled in a career involving mass segmentation – which is to say, professional pigeon-holing.  So I now do for a living that which was impressed on me by my teachers and “bad” and “wrong.”  I’m just lucky, I guess.

Now, I’m not repudiating the practice (or even “refudiating” it, for the sake of the overly-stereotyped “Mamma Grizzlies” out there!).  I actually kind of like the irony of it. We were all taught in grade school to see past common stereotypes and value each individual as a unique snowflake, only to discover that humans actually do break down into easily identifiable, quantifiable, and predictable groups.  Except we now call them personas rather than stereotypes – because we’re not in the dark ages anymore. Read more…

Top Ten Marketing Secrets from Don Draper

July 11, 2010 6 comments

Here are the top ten timeless advertising lessons we can all learn from Mad Men’s Don Draper:



Don Draper, from the AMC series Mad Men


Read more…

Behavior Rules Are Not The Same For Everyone

I was cruising through one of my new favorite blogs: the Inner Circle blog on, and found a great post featuring a video by Malcolm Gladwell.

Gladwell, author of bestsellers Blink, The Tipping Point, and Outliers, most recently published What The Dog Saw, a compendium of articles he wrote for the New Yorker. One of the articles he includes is called “The Ketchup Conundrum.” It details the work of a psychophysicist named Howard Moskowitz, and his work helping food companies create the most satisfying foods.

The article features a video from TED, which I highly recommend watching. The video is of Gladwell himself, speaking on this topic. Here is the video:

The most important lesson we can take away from Moskowitz, Gladwell tells us, has to do with human variability. All science, including food science, has for most of its existence “been obsessed with finding universals.” We want to know universal laws. Physicists want to arrive at a Grand Unified “Theory of Everything.” And this idea of trying to arrive at universal causes and forces has applied to psychology as well. Read more…

Lessons from Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (via Maloney on Marketing)

June 25, 2010 1 comment

The Maloney on Marketing blog comes up with a lot of insightful information. I always learn something new and important.

I think that has to do with the author’s love for Malcolm Gladwell, and authors who take Gladwell as their inspiration. When you dig below the surface, you tend to find a lot of counterintuitive truth. When you find out that something actually works in a way counter to conventional wisdom, there’s usually a lot of gold in that insight.

Two such similar authors are Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Made to Stick. The book is profiled in this Maloney on Marketing entry:

Lessons from Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die Made to Stick – Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath is a book that I had been meaning to read for a while, as it is promoted as a great supplement to one of my favourite books of all time: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. The book revolves around six key qualities of an idea that is … Read More

via Maloney on Marketing

Some thoughts:

  • Notice in the SUCCESS acronym that there is something that is very deliberately missing: logical argument. Or, for than matter, explanation of benefits. For all the focus we put on arguments for benefits, such arguments are useless for making ideas stick.
  • Among other points, this book reinforces the notion of thinking in concrete images, even if you’re not working in visual media. There’s a reason landing on the moon is emotionally motivating, but curing cancer by the end of the decade is less so: you can see the former, but not the latter.
  • For more information on sticky advertising, see Roy H. Williams (The Wizard of Ads).