(or creating corporately conditioned consumer
"In the mid-1990s, studies began to suggest that
decision making, long held to
be a prime example of a mental process best accomplished without the
interference of emotions, could not only benefit from emotions, but also might
require them." - Jenny Lauren Lee Most adult humans
find a comfortable predictable day to day manner of living preferable to living
on the thin edge of not-life.
judge conditions and situations
confronted primarily through pattern matching. Most individuals claim they use
logic and reason to come to a particular
conclusion even though their actual decision was based more upon a
"feeling" than on a rational decision.
Assume a consumer
purchases a product. The product works as advertised.
emotionally registers satisfaction with the product.
satisfaction subconsciously brands the individual.
Subconscious emotional branding
creates the "correct" emotional response, the "right feeling", when we see the
product on the shelf the next time and that "right feeling" induces product
To find profit in so many similar items,
marketers must brand a
product on the buyer's
Such efforts put the average American adult in
the cross hairs of ~ 3,000 advertising messages a day, five times more than two
Children are exposed to ~ 40,000 advertisements every
By the age of 18 months, they can recognize logos.
they have memorized 300 to 400 brand logos.
The average adult can
recognize thousands of brand logos.
rational decisions are
reflexive snap judgements, shaped by
networks of neurons acting in concert.
These orchestras of cells are surprisingly malleable, readily
responding to the influence of experience.
The inescapable influence of
marketing does more than change minds.
Just as practicing
the piano or learning to read can physically alter areas of the cerebral
cortex, the intense, repetitive
stimulation of marketing shapes
susceptible brain circuits involved in
are embedded in an enormous sea of cultural messages,
the neural influences
of which we poorly understand. We are beginning to understand the way in which
messages can gain control over our behavior." - neuroscientist Read Montague,
director of the Human Neuroimaging Laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine
While monitoring brain activity directly
researchers make inquiries into
consumer choice by harnessing
techniques pioneered for medical diagnosis: positron emission tomography, which
measures the brain's chemical activity; magnetic-resonance imagery, which
measures the brain's magnetic fields; and functional magnetic resonance
imaging, which measures blood
flow around working neurons.
"This is a way of
prying open the jar and seeing
what is inside." - psychologist Jonathan Cohen,
director of Princeton University's Center for the Study of Brain, Mind,
In the mind's eye,
celebrity faces trigger many
of the same circuits as images of shoes, cars, chairs, wristwatches,
sunglasses, handbags and water bottles.
celebrity faces were reduced
to a common denominator: a spasm of synapses in a part of the cortex called
Brodmann's area 10, a region associated with
a sense of identity and
social image. None of
these neural responses come consciously to mind when a shopper is browsing
Much of what was
considered the product of logic and
deliberation is actually driven by primitive nueral systems responsible for
automatic emotional response processes
that evolved to manage conflicts between sex,
hunger, thirst and the other elemental appetites of survival.
In recent years, researchers have discovered that
regions such as the amygdala, the hippocampus and the hypothalamus are dynamic
switchboards that blend memory,
emotions and biochemical
These interconnected neurons shape the way
exhilaration and social
pressure influence the choices
beliefs trigger the same malleable circuits of reward, identity, desire and
product branding does.
Lattices of neurons are linked by
pathways forged, then continually revised, by experience.
intimate is this feedback that there is no way to
separate the brain's
neural structure from the influence of the world that surrounds it.
As researchers have
learned to map the
anatomy of behavior they have realized that the brain, shaped by the
interplay of genes and environment, is more
malleable than anyone had guessed.
There is a fundamental conflict
in our society between consumers and business.
The concept of
advertising is predicated on marketing but it's no trick to sell people what
they want to buy; the trick is to make people want to buy what you want to
sell. When you succeed at that, you're a salesman. Otherwise, you're simply a
Media advertisements and commercials are designed to be
salespersons, not clerks.
purchasing decisions are within
their control. If they are told they are being manipulated into wanting to
purchase a product, they will recoil. They know ads are designed to "sell" but
they think that such susceptibility mostly applies to others, not to them. This
is known as the blind spot bias.
People also want to be entertained. But they do not want to think that
entertainment is, in fact, merely a vehicle for inducing them to purchase
advertised products. They want the boundaries between entertainment and
advertising pitches to be clearly delineated. That delineation is the last
thing business wants.
Not until or unless consumers of entertainment
understand how businesses manipulate them into awareness of and desire for
their products via ostensible entertainment programming, will the media playing
field ever be level.
When consumers found the remote, the videotape and
most recently, TiVo, they zapped commercials. Advertisers returned the volley
with product placement.
In feature films, where advertising had never
established the foothold it had in television and other media venues, deals
between producers and advertisers have flourished. Studios are paid large fees
for conspicuously placing products in a scene or making brand name products
part of the storyline.
The following is an actual proposal for product
Dear Mr. Smith,
We are about to go into production
with the motion picture, "Run, Sheep, Run", a suspense thriller, set in Los
Angeles. If there is any interest from your company, and I'm sure there must
be, the film is better than any commercial that has been run on television or
any magazine, because the audience is totally unaware of the sponsor
involvement, I would like to have from your company the suggested brands for
the people as listed above and the necessary cartons of cigarettes to be used.
We would enter a contract, that upon delivery of the answer print to the
distributor, your company, Reynolds Tobacco, would pay to our production
company, the sum of $500,000.00. If for any reason the film is not distributed,
then your company is out only the time in answering my letter, and a few
packages of cigarettes, I think this protects both of us . I expect to hear
from you very shortly.
Robert P. Richards 08/25/72
placement, visual or auditory, is superior to straight commercials as people
generally put up defenses against invitations to a purchase. Product placement
circumvents these defenses and places the product in the
mind's eye for future
human brain development
Verbal abuse from peers is associated with elevated
psychiatric symptoms and corpus callosum abnormalities.
The main causes
hormones, changes in inhibitory
environmental experience affecting the formation of myelin electrical
insulation on nerve fibers.
The most sensitive period for verbal abuse
from peers in impairing brain development was exposure during the middle school
This is the period of life when these connections are developing
in the human brain, and wiring of the human brain is greatly influenced by
"Unlike the brains of most animals, which are cast at birth, the human brain
develops largely after we are born. The brain of a human infant is so feeble
that human babies are helpless. Human infants cannot walk, visual perception is
rudimentary, and cognitive abilities, likes and dislikes, talents and skills,
and the ability to communicate by speech or through reading and writing do not
develop fully until the completion of adolescence.
Our brains are the
product of the environment in which we are nurtured through the first two
decades of life. Our experience during childhood and adolescence determines the
wiring of our brain so powerfully that even processing of sensory information
is determined by our childhood environment.
Whether or not we can hear
eight notes in a musical scale or 12, or whether we find symmetry in art
beautiful or boring, or whether we can hear the difference in sound of the
English letter "R" vs. "L", depends entirely upon whether our brains wired up
during childhood in Western culture or Asian culture. The neural circuitry
underlying those sensory perceptions is directed by what we experienced in
early life, and these circuits cannot be rewired easily in the adult brain." -
Douglas Fields, Neurobiologist; Author, The Other Brain
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