The Science of Advertising

Outstanding ads definitely leave an impression on the audience. Opinions vary as to what constitutes a remarkable marketing achievement. For instance, an ad’s stickiness may be an accurate indicator regardless of the emotions it elicits. Consumers often recall jingles with amazing accuracy, although they report that they consider the same tune annoying. Repetition undoubtedly plays a role in retention rates. At the same time, people tune out when they feel totally disengaged from the message.

Memorization signifies some level of identification though the viewer may not want to admit this fact. Marketers wield tremendous power over the psyche, and a new study finds that copy essentially implants false memories.

Researchers studying the relationship between advertising and cognition gave subjects detailed descriptions of fake products under familiar brand names. Some of the participants ended up sampling the snack food whereas others never got a chance to dig in. Another group read relatively bland pitches without the ultra sensory language; only a portion of these folks munched on the treat as well. Subsequent interviews illustrate the provocative ad’s ability to alter the actual events in people’s minds. A significant number of those who read the flowery diction reported eating the item even though they never did.

The academics hope their findings encourage vigilance on the part of consumers, but they will likely inspire industry insiders in the process. A lesser known discovery involved the role of branding in the whole ordeal. When subjects were given the same ads without a recognizable brand name attached, they didn’t recall instances that never occurred, at least, not as much anyway. While the scientists note the distinction between manipulating thought patterns and instigating buying behavior, their story demonstrates the importance of brand identity. Basically, unknown companies don’t penetrate into the dark recesses of the human mind. Established names, on the other hand, produce intense recollections of an imagined connection. Obviously, there’s a strong emotional undercurrent going on that’s difficult to measure. In all likelihood, it’s possible to replicate this data using close friends instead of admen. It would certainly be interesting to find out what happens when people hear a vivid account of a meal from a friend as opposed to a total stranger. They will probably remember their friend’s tale and claim it as their own. At the very least, they will be able to repeat their friends’ stories without remembering the strangers’ words. Perhaps a brand’s strength lies in its ability to inspire feelings of kinship.

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