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Category — Advertising Philosophy

Philip Zimbardo: How ordinary people become monsters … or heroes

This is a great talk by Philip Zimbardo about what evil is. Evil, he says, is not a individual condition, it’s the result of circumstances. He cites the Stanley Milgram’s experiment on human behavior, and the Stanford prison experiment and the problems at Abu Ghraib, all leading up to the conclusion that all humans are equally capable of evil.

What does this have to do with advertising? Advertising is social psychology. To understand how advertising affects people, you have to understand why people follow the group and how the brain works. This is a wonderful video on that subject. Check it out.

October 27, 2008   2 Comments

The Power Of Conformity: How To Actually Change A Persons Thoughts With Advertising

In the 1950′s, psychologist Solomon Asch performed a series of now famous experiments on social conformity. In the re-enactment video above, you can get a good idea of what they were about.

All of them involved a group of participants answering some very simple questions about their perception (for example: which line was longer than the other?, which lines were the same length?, etc.). All but one of those participants were “confederates”, meaning they were in on the experiment, and were asked to give the same incorrect answers. Asch wanted to see how the remaining subject would react to the rest of the participants behavior.

The results were startling: When they were surrounded by participants giving an incorrect answer, 75% of the subjects followed along and gave the same incorrect answer at least once, and 37% of the subjects followed along and gave an incorrect answer the majority of the time.
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October 25, 2008   Comments Off

The Psychology of Magic, Mediums, Politics, and Advertising


Magic and advertising are both deeply rooted in manipulation, and exploiting knowledge of human psychology. One of the most important aspects of the magician’s trade is manipulating the spectators choice while at the same time tricking that spectator into thinking they willingly made the choice. Derren Brown is a master of that particular trick. Check out some Derren Brown videos at the bottom of this post.

Ironically, that type of manipulation plays a huge part in advertising as well. In fact, magicians, politicians, advertisers and mediums are all essentially doing the same thing, the difference lies in their levels of honesty. The magician is usually the only honest one.
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October 22, 2008   1 Comment

American Apparel: Hipster Porn In Our Collective Unconcious


American Apparel doesn’t do high gloss sexy like Abercrombie or Calvin Klein. There’s no silicone or collagen or Botox. There’s no major Photoshopping or retouching the models. It’s a reflection of our idea of what sexy is as a society.

The perfect blonde on the beach is leaving our collective fantasy; our idea of sexy isn’t defined by film or by print anymore, it’s defined by the internet. Our generation has unprecedented access to smut, and it’s infiltrated our definitions of beauty and our everyday fantasies. Gonzo porn is our sensual fantasy now. Set in some freaks house as a 19 year old meth-addicted girl with low self-esteem knocks on the door. “I’m here for the party.”
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October 15, 2008   56 Comments

The 2008 Nieman Marcus Christmas Book: High Class Holidays


Yes yes, the chill is in the air now, fall is here and retailers are humming holiday tunes and setting up lights, reminding us all exactly how many days we have left until the ultimate deadline. They need to put on the pressure to make it feel like an obligation and not just an optional gift-giving occasion. And I don’t feel the pressue until I see Nieman Marcus peddling overpriced fantasy gifts via catalog.

And look at that, Nieman Marcus put out their annual holiday gift guide, called the Christmas Book, just the other day. It’s jam packed with things even the top 1% of the American financial elite would think twice about buying. These are difficult days economically, not the best time to be putting out catalogs filled with $110k dollar motorbikes and $45k dollar gold rings owed by 12th century Vikings. Some people may take offense. Not me, I think it’s fine reading and enjoy it thoroughly. Some people, though.

Here’s a sampling of some of the contents:
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October 8, 2008   Comments Off

The Hotness: Harley-Davidson Promotes The V-Rod Muscle With Marisa Miller

Harley-Davidson has a pretty hardcore fanbase of older American motorcyclists, but the way things are going, that’s not going to last. Harley realizes there’s a whole generation of younger riders embracing foreign brands; Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Aprilia, and Ducati all make high performance, high quality bikes that generally cost less than a Harley. So they need to make a bike that appeals to that crowd, and find a way to make them take notice of it.

That’s why they paired up the V-Rod Muscle and Marisa Miller. I’ll admit, I’m one of those young upstarts who trash talks the last great American icon, Harley-Davidson. I like Ducatis and cafe racers and European names on my bikes. I like to go fast in a straight line, but also be able to go through corners. Call me a snob, what can I say? Still, the V-Rod Muscle, even though I hate the name, is a Harley I might consider riding. And the fact that Marisa Miller is bent over athletically on one got me to take notice too. So the ad worked on me.
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October 8, 2008   1 Comment

Microsoft Gives Jerry Seinfeld The Ax, Comes Out With New “I’m A PC” Ad

Remember this?

I had no words for these commercials. I hesitated to even write about them since I thought there would eventually be some sort of punchline commercial to cap them off. But no, they were just odd for the sake of oddity, and now they’re canceled. The internet spoke unanimously and Microsoft listened. It might just have been the worst way to spend $300 million dollars in the history of the modern era.

Maybe that’s what Microsoft was getting at: “We’re so successful, we can spend $300 million dollars on a meaningless ad campaign, suck it Apple”. If that were the tag line, I’d at least respect their testicular fortitude.

But it’s over and done with, a thing of the past. What we’re interested in now is the future. Thankfully for Microsoft they have a new series of commercials that are actually good. Check out the video after the jump I’m A PC
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October 5, 2008   1 Comment

Hai Karate and Tag Body Shots: The Cologne Warning Gimmick

This is a Hai Karate commercial from the late 1960s. The idea of the ad is that Hai Karate is such a great smell, women will force themselves on you, and you’ll have to protect yourself. The box even came with an actual karate instruction booklet to help you defend yourself against rogue attacking women.

This idea is common in the fragrance market for young men. It’s funny, grabs your attention and appeals to the desire that young men have: to be jumped by women.

Check out the similarities in the Tag body spray commercial:
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September 29, 2008   Comments Off

Google Changes the Telco Game: This Is Why I Love Free Markets


Google has filed a patent today for something called “Flexible Communication Systems and Methods.” The premise is that a mobile device will automatically be able to detect the cheapest Wi-Fi, WiMax or cellular plan in any given location. Depending on where you are, your connection will come from various providers.

To quote from AndroidGuys:
If anything, this disrupts things a little bit more. By forcing the carriers to adopt a Lending Tree type mentality, they will compete for your services even more. “Hey, we can give you 3G speeds here for $X per GB! Would you like to use our service?” Cable and DSL companies should be worried too. That Clearwire partnership also involves Time Warner, Comcast, and Brighthouse. Maybe you get your cellular service through AT&T, but your data device bounces around from one company to another.
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September 26, 2008   Comments Off

The Ad Generator: Advertising Via Algorithm


Advertising is all about understanding human psychology and how the brain works. The more studies are performed, the more data is collected, the more knowledge we have, the stronger effect advertising can have on the consumer. More and more, it’s becoming a science.

Right now, all the data and information is interpreted by a human in the marketing department. How long before we can create advertising creative using an algorithm? Based on an interesting design project, I think it could be done right now. Check it out:
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September 22, 2008   1 Comment