We’ve talked a lot at BrainJuicer about the elephant and the rider as a metaphor for human decision making. Imagine an elephant and its rider: we like to believe the rider is in charge, but really the rider has much less agency than we think. So what does control the elephant?
The elephant is led by a bunch of things: its training, its mood, what it can see any other elephants doing, and what the environment is leading it to do. And it carries the rider along with it. The human mind is very similar. Conscious, considered decisions are led by feeling, by copying, by environmental framing, and by habit – not the other way around.
That’s why, when we talk about behaviour change, we talk a lot about moving the elephant, and building paths for it. You don’t change behaviour by appealing to the rider – you change it by making things easier for the elephant. Continue reading
We’ve had this article (or variants of it) brought to our attention a lot in the last couple of weeks. It’s about some new research by academic Rachael Jack which calls into question Paul Ekman’s idea that there are only “six basic emotions”. According to Jack’s work, there are actually four.
This has got a lot of press. People are really interested in the idea that there are common emotions that work across cultures – it’s a reason our FaceTrace methodology, which measures emotions and uses Ekman’s model, has been such a success. 3 million people have used FaceTrace 5 million times in 75 countries, so we know it works – but what if Ekman was wrong? Continue reading
The ads for Super Bowl XLVIII got off to an unfortunate start: Ford’s “No Ordinary Commercial”, which was, you guessed it, an ordinary commercial. A slick, insincere voiceover hammering home a mind-numbing message – something something double the something. Its gimmick was it repeated itself again, at double the length and a few more bells and whistles.
“No Ordinary Commercial” is everything we think advertising shouldn’t be: a dull rational message with the barest sprinkling of spectacle on top. It’s a cynical treatment based on a losing proposition – the idea that consumers make decisions based on careful System 2 recall of messages, not on the System 1 emotional associations ads leave. There ought to be a better way. Continue reading
This year’s crop of Super Bowl teasers were the most self-referential yet. It’s clever – but is it smart?
Something had to give. Super Bowl ads are now so minutely analysed, measured, anticipated and discussed that this year one way to stand out is to get postmodern and make your strategy a comment on the nature of Super Bowl ads (as well as, you know, just getting on and making one).
It started with VW’s knowing teaser, with German engineers analysing what makes a great Super Bowl ad – and VW packing all those elements into a 60-second spot. Cute, of course, but perhaps too incident-packed to work emotionally. Continue reading
Every year, the ads produced for the Super Bowl are among the year’s most memorable and emotional. But advertising doesn’t stand still – the tricks and techniques that work one year won’t necessarily work next time. That’s not to say you can’t learn anything from the past, though. In this piece, drawing on our FeelMore50TM analysis of 2013’s most emotional ads, we take a look at the seven trends we think will turn up at the Super Bowl next weekend.
Crowdsourced ads: Doritos’ crowdsourcing its ads last year led to two emotional winners (“Goat 4 Sale” and “Fashionista Dad”). But drawing on the crowd doesn’t just mean tapping its creativity – H&M is asking customers to vote on different endings to its saucy Super Bowl spot. Continue reading
The increasing interest by Governments worldwide in “nudging” to promote behavioural change has not gone un-noticed by people opposed to any kind of Government intervention. Nudges, say those of an anti-Governmental or libertarian persuasion, are nannyish, dangerous and illiberal. This is conveniently forgetting, of course, that it’s not just Governments who use psychological biases and heuristics to influence behaviour – retailers, brands and advertisers have been doing it for years.
So nudging is here to stay. But what if it wasn’t? Or – more specifically – what if regulators decided that informed consumer choice required people to be informed of particular psychological techniques companies might be using? Like priming, for example – the controversial effect where apparently unrelated, subconscious cues can trigger behaviour. Continue reading
You may have seen a picture doing the rounds of a sunrise on a television screen in a smoggy Beijing. The story behind the picture – and why it spread – tells us quite a lot about how people choose what they believe.
It’s a dramatic picture, and was reported by UK newspaper the Daily Mail with a strong story hook. Beijing’s air pollution has got so bad, said the Mail, that the Government has put up a giant screen to show the sunrise, and residents are flocking to see it.
Except, as this Quartz story points out, that’s not remotely what’s happening. The TV screen is an advertising billboard, which happens to show the sunrise image as part of a larger reel. The Chinese Government had nothing to do with it. And residents aren’t “flocking”, they’re just passing it by. Continue reading