The Darkside of the Poetic Era

Monday, February 27th 2012

Ads aren't as effective as they once were. People are being shown more and more of them. And they are ignoring more and more of them, too.

So rather than be part of an ad break, or an ad played before a video, or some box floating near the text a person wants to read, or some billboard blocking the view, advertisers have started putting their ads into movies. "Product placement".

Nothing new, of course.

As Martin Lindstrom points out in his book Buyology, "product placement" has been with us in earnest since the 1930s.

And things really got going in the 80s.

RayBan increased sales by getting Tom Cruise to don a par of aviator sunnies in Top Gun. Spielberg tempted ET out of his hiding place with Hershey's Reece's pieces. And everybody made a killing.

So - put a product in a popular TV show, movie, web site, etc? A advertising guy's brain would have to be made of putty not to see the upside.

And, lo, product placement has reached silly proportions. Sylvester Stallone's "Driven", for instance, had almost one product placement per minute.

Lindstrom says that the best product placements are the ones that fit into the story. Otherwise people filter them out. Randomly placing products in the one of Stallone's movie, at the pace of one per minute, didn't work very well.

The natural result of this? Lindstrom:

Leslie Moonves, chairman of the CBC corporation, predicts that soon up to 75 percent of all scripted primetime network shows will feature products and plotlines that advertisers have paid for. [...] Rance Crain, the editor-in-chief of Advertising Age, once put it succinctly: "Advertisers will not be satisfied until they put their mark on every blade of grass". (Buyology, Martin Lindstrom, page. 47.)

Martin Lindstrom (in Buyology, p. 84) writes about experiments they undertook on subliminal advertising.

Martin Lindstrom and colleagues did an experiment (p.84). They compared two groups of smokers reaction to imagery. Some was normal advertising - brand names, traditional ads, logos, taglines, etc. Some was just associated imagery.

All of our subjects were asked to refrain from smoking for two hours preceding the test, to ensure that their nicotine levels would be equal at the start of the experiment. First, both groups were shown subliminal images that had no overt connection with cigarette brand - [...] western style scenery, including iconic cowboys, beautiful sunsets, and arid deserts. Next, to establish a comparison, they were shown explicit cigarette advertising images like the Marlboro Man and Joe Camel on his motorbike, as well as Marlboro and Camel logos. Dr. Calvert and I wanted to find out if the subliminal images would generate cravings similar to the ones generated by the logos and the clearly marked camel packs.

[...] When Dr. Calvert compared the brains' responses to the two different types of images, she found even more activity in the reward and craving centres when subjects viewed the subliminal images than when they viewed the overt images. In other words, the logo-free images associated with cigarettes, like the Ferrari and the sunset, triggered more cravings among smokers than the logos or the images of the cigarette packs themselves - a result that was consistent for both Camel and Marlboro smokers.

Can you imagine a world without logos? No headlines. No taglines. Can you imagine wordless ads that you could look at and know immediately what brand they were selling? Many companies, like Ambercrombie & Fitch and Ralph Lauren ... and Philip Morris, have already begun to use logo-free advertising, and to great effect, too. In the future, many brands will follow suit. (p.86)

In answer to the question, does subliminal advertising work, one would have to say yes - chillingly well.

Now consider that the power of associations is also implicit in any associative system that can be processed by the brain. Eventually, systems for communication will end up less and less explicit. They will bypass rational thought.

This is the darkside of the poetic era, you could say.

The Seriousness Equation

Saturday, February 25th 2012

Dull + earnest = boring.

Dull + earnest + angry = serious.

All Technology Leads To ...

Friday, February 24th 2012

Technology is at least 10,000 years ahead of our biology.

And all paths lead to "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."


Oh the Horror!

Friday, February 24th 2012

Don't trust an Ewok!

"Don't Go in the Endor Woods"

It's old, but it's wonderful.

"The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon"

The spoon thunders down with relentless merciless soul shattering fury.

Again and again and again and again

Old Time Religion

Friday, February 24th 2012

Gimme that Old Time Religion. Splendid version of an old classic.

Idealism and Problems

Thursday, February 23rd 2012

Idealism never survives a battle with an ability to detect hypocrisy.

Those who pre-empt problems rarely get credit for it. A problem solved in advance never turns into a problem. It's as if it was never a real possibility.

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