Category Archives: advertising

Essentialism

I’ve had a hectic few months of late and have really neglected to look at Ted for a while. This has in the past been a popular lunchtime destination for me – sandwich in hand, earphones in & an interesting and provocative talk to view in a bite-sized format. Ted is great.

Anyway, I managed to have a lunch break today and watched a thoroughly entertaining and informative talk from Paul Bloom; entitled “The Origins of Pleasure”. A well put together presentation of history, sociology, physiology and psychology in how humans derive pleasure. A key point of discussion was why do we (humans) find greater pleasure from a real painting than from a fake, or why we deem more pleasure from knowing a performance is from someone famous/recognized than someone that isn’t but playing to the same standard etc. In essence the what is it about our psyche that puts so much of  an importance on origin/authenticity/celebrity/effort behind the product/item/person etc.

Yes, a degree of status or snobbery comes into play, but Paul argues that actually all Humans are natural born essentialists. Meaning that our feelings of pleasure go beyond how we feel, see or hear something but rather our responses our conditioned on our belief of what it really is, where it came from, how it got there, what it’s made up etc. This, he argues, governs not just how we think about things but also how we react to them. Or as he states – Pleasure is Deep (that beliefs play a huge part in all forms of pleasure).

Food for thought, I feel, when thinking about the creative process. Brand as we all know, plays an important part – indeed within the context of this discussion it is a key part of the essentialism behind a product. It’s the added/hidden value that our minds put into play. A Gucci handbag might look identical to one from H&M; have the same function; a similar quality of materials – but the value of the brand is paramount and something a consumer would happily pay significantly more for. To the point in Paul’s talk “how do you get kids to like/enjoy carrots & Milk”? The answer – well you tell them it comes from McDonalds – as children perceive McDonalds as creating tasty food.

However, we don’t all get to work for products/services/events associated with strong brands or indeed when you’re launching a new brand you don’t have the luxury of this perceived essentialism value to it. Yet the learning’s from this philosophy should be applied; and this goes to the heart of what we do – creating the story behind the product; a good story should create this sense of essentialism/value to the consumer. As Paul Bloom outlines in his talk; back-story; origin, details of the creative process, illustrating the effort, putting a human face and showing a real person, highlighting a uniqueness are all areas/items that the human mind is predisposed to attach value to and therefore should be thought through in creating the story.

Interesting I thought – worth the 16mins to view.

and the scientists say…

So it seems that boffins have now proved, what i think a lot of people already knew, that messages delivered via Newspapers do have real influence over consumer decisions. The study in question is one that seems to have slid out under the radar yesterday,(i noticed it in the news in brief section of the Times today and on further digging only Brand Republic has covered so far).  Anyway, the Newspaper Marketing Agency commissioned a boffin group called Brainwave Science to conduct the first
UK scientific study into the impact on the brain of advertising.

The key takeaway from the survey (again i haven’t seen, as i can’t find, the full research results) seem to be that television adverts have far more impact if backed by a newspaper campaign (Newspapers generate a 42% higher emotional response that Televison when it comes to advertising).

The boffins were able to track brain activity and show how it ‘spiked’ in response to adverts and the effect of these spikes was far greater if the product was promoted across different media.This seems to be a case of getting science to proof what we already knew, or certainly believed. Whilst this particular survey looked at the impact of advertising, it does of course support the idea that cross-discipline marketing works and the power of a ‘joined up’ campaign. The idea of the ‘sweet spot’ of message delivery across media cleary does work. It supports the idea that PR, advertising, direct marketing etc are at their most effective when they work together. Would love to see the full research report.

 

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don’t ask me i’m a PR…

blogcartoon.jpg 

 Two interesting posts today, on sites I regularly read, that both cover the same topic. Both Hugh and TWL today muse about the PR industries grasp, or lack of, Social media.

TWL point to the fact that the whole ‘blogging’ thing hasn’t really delivered on the hype and promise through 2005/2006. According to TWL clients largely still don’t get it, PR’s aren’t selling services against it well enough and as a result PR continues to fail to catch up with the Advertising big boys and their budgets. TWL seems to think that this will not change in 2007 pointing to the issue largely being about the transparent nature of blogs and as a result the fear that clients have about the lack of control of messages they can have in this medium compared to the traditional (and yes diminishing) form… 

Blogs should be our bag. We’d all love to be involved in clear, open, honest, transparent communication about the truly decent things that clients get up to. But therein lies the problem. Clients. They still want to have control over the message; total transparency isn’t really their thing, is it? 

TWL is largely spot on. Whilst this isn’t always the case( there are some great examples of companies that do it well), many many clients just don’t get it, and probably neither do the PRs. Blogging services, as TWL point out, very quickly can turn to ‘monitoring’ conversations and don’t ever really get to even thinking about participation. It’s the lets just make sure nothing bad happens approach, as opposed to the lets try and make something good. Shame. 

Obviously there is plenty of work, and I think opportunity, for PRs in the area of convincing clients that the blogosphere is important. This probably means there is lots of work to do in PRs actually understanding this form of communication so clients can turn around and go “yes, I understand that, I believe that they understand it and I trust that they could make a difference for us let’s do it”. Crucial to this is understanding thatblogs are not online news sites and that bloggers are not journalists. As Hugh mentions in his post:  

blogosphere is not a good place to “push” corporate messages. That being said, the ‘sphere does have its uses for corporates, the same way it does for individuals. As I see it, the ‘sphere is the world’s largest “Idea Incubator”. It’s a great place to seed ideas. It’s a great place to test which ideas have traction, which ideas are “Beyond Lame”. Which conversations get people’s attention, and which conversations make people roll their eyeballs. 

i.e. not at all like traditional media. The Blogosphere should not be an after thought for corporate communications but rather, if engaged with properly, a fantastic first port of call that can help shape wider media campaigns.  

Anyway the TWL article is well worth a read – see what you think… 

 

 

 

Coming soon to a conf call near…

I just spent some ten minutes waiting for a conference call to start at work today. Not an uncommon experience, in fact conference calls are an ever present part of my job and I imagine that is the same for many other knowledge workers. As the business world increasingly looks at reducing costs and starts thinking about their carbon footprint at the same time, conference calls are surely set to grow? 

Which got me thinking, and apologies this is a pre-caffeine thought of the day, why am I listening to music clearly recorded in the early 90s using a synthesiser when I could be listening to highly targeted advertisements? I’m waiting on this conf call with probably about another 20-30 people all working to varying degrees in the technology sector – a captive audience? Yes/No – am I way off the mark here? I now time shift my TV watching habits, as many do, and now skip through the adverts. The time sitting and waiting for conf calls to start each week (I think probably if I added this time all together it would be up to 60 minutes each week) is at the moment probably the largest junk of ‘dead time’ or potential ‘captive time’ I have in my Monday to Friday life. I think I’d rather listen to adverts about new services, revolutionary photocopiers, latest printers and all that jazz than some demo tune from a synthesiser that someone got for Christmas in 1990… Maybe the conf call is the new TV for advertisers (clearly it isn’t but just a random thought that I believed I should share – where’s my coffee?)

We are the news…

Interesting news on YouTube, founder Chad Hurely announcing that within a year there will be a mobile service available. This will allow users to use their mobiles to capture video clips and upload to the site directly in real-time. I think this could be the next catalyst for change in the world of news and offer further momentum for ‘real’ news reporting. The internet has really challenged and changed the way in which people consume and publish news, and this seems to be the next step. An event happens and within minutes it is delivered to the public by people at the scene as they see it. 

I’ve seen Sky news increasing use footage recorded from a witness camera phone, just look at the Tsunami, 9/11 and 7/7 post event coverage, using lots of witness recorded footage. This YouTube development could offer the next revolution in news TV. Is it too hard to imagine a YouTube News site developed (or more likely this becoming a new facet to the Google news search – advertising a go go)… How long until YouTube/Google news becomes the online generations’ first port of call for news? The news seen as it happens, without political flavouring and editing. Personally I can’t wait.