vrijdag 14 augustus 2009

Advertising and Awareness

There is this story Gordon Livingstone tells in his book about Vietnam. As a young luitanant in the 82d Airborne he tried to determine the position of his platoon. His platoon sargeant walked up and asked if he knew where they were.

Livingstone answered: "according to this map, there should be a hill around here. Yet I don't see it." To which the sargeant said: "If the map doesn't agree with the the ground, the map doesn't work".

Our minds work quite the same way. They do not make sense of reality. 
They create reality. They create patterns out of incidents and give weight to events that just "are".

Because humans are irrational. We know this. And as marketers we try to exploit this. Only in order for that to work, we have to be able to step back and as Chuck D said: "Dont believe the hype".

Bob Hoffman once pointed out something about car commercials. We know that the buyers of cars are older. Yet the ads are created for an different audience. Because the map we (as irrational humans) have hinders us from agreeing with the ground.

Now having a wrong map is not always the problem. Daniel Kanheman tells the story of people who were lost in the Alps.

There is a group of Swiss soldiers who set out on a long navigation exercise in the Alps. The weather was severe and they got lost. After several days, with their desperation mounting, one of the men suddenly realized he had a map of the region. They followed the map and managed to reach a town.

When they returned to base and their commanding officer asked how they had made their way back. They replied, "We suddenly found a map." The officer looked at the map and said, "You found a map all right, but it's not of the Alps, it's of the Pyrenees."

The map, however wrong, gave them confidence to seek out a path down the mountains. In many ways this is what entrepreneurs and marketerts do. 

They seek out new ways of doing stuff. But much like the soldiers coming down the Alps (and mind you, these are people trained to make good decisions under pressure) if we look at how many campaings and products fail, it seems the time it does work has more to do with luck then skill.

The singles most important, and I would argue most difficult, skill is being able to see what is there. To just observe and notice, without starting to make assumptions. Without connecting or to letting your mind create reality.

It is something Zen Buddishm calles shoshin, beginners mind. But it would be more than just having no preconceptions or judgments. Being able to see what is there requires you to be able to focus and to be aware.

Whether it is the Account Manager talking to the client, without his mind wondering. Planners and Creatives needing to be able to look at what is actually being done and lived by consumers and not only to follow the brief or rely on research.

Focus, awareness and absense of judgement are the starting points to doing work that is, unexpected, capturing and effective.

Rob talked about investing in stressmamangement to help employees become better at their work. 

What I would suggest as a supplement is that, especially adland, industries that need imagination to thrive; we also invest in training our people to see past the personal frames, blockades and point of views. Having a resident psychologist to train with staff should be standard practice for an industry that uses them and other social scientists to see what other people are doing.

To actively start training the mind, not to learn, but to be able to shut down the constant stream of thought it generates. 

To become aware of wondering thoughts, lazy thinking and the kicking in of heuristics and mental models.

In order to capture the imagination of others we have to become masters of reality again, not of rationale.

woensdag 12 augustus 2009

how human nature can change consumption habits

The above commercial shows us a bias that can help producers and consumers change their habits to more eco friendly ways without less consumption.

It is called the Diderot effect

If you buy a bigger washingmachine, you of course need a better detergent to help with the bigger loads.

So if we want to change habits on a macro scale , look outside the category and see what social and cultural cohesion the item provides. Link to it and get the consumer to be consious of the link.

Want to sell more items as a retailer, well if you sell clothes, get your local hairsalon and shoeshop to have a sale to. New haircut leads to new manicure and pedicure leads to new shoes, new bag, new clothes, new person (well untill next season that is).

At the beginning I stated that it can be used to change habits to more eco friendly ways, but it can be, and has been, used for any number of goals. That depends on the intentions you have.