Byron Sharp Lays Into Advertising's Obsession With Flimsy Neuroscience

If you haven't already, get your reading gear around this excellent article by Professor Byron Sharp. We have a lot of time for Sharp here at Sell! Towers, his work has encouraged us to not feel like we're loonies howling at the moon.

In this article he (rightly in our opinion) lays into the current fashion for advertising people to take the flimsy theories of neuroscientists and use them to post-rationalise their own similarly flimsy approach to advertising.

A couple of excerpts:

"Neuroscience is fashionably dragged in as support: ‘Oh, look, this part of the brain lights up when people see a brand they know well and buy – this proves that brand preference is due to brands forging strong subconscious emotional bonds.’ This is a gigantic leap of logic! It is worth noting that no serious neuroscientist has made such a claim, nor been willing to support such a claim. More realistically, familiar things are familiar, and familiarity is important. We don’t need to layer on more fanciful theory."

"...what really worries me is that this infatuation with theatrical psychology lab experiments – that show participants in lab experiments can be nudged without knowing it – is bringing back a discredited theory of brand image of besotted/manipulated consumers."

"These psychology lab studies produce highly fragile results (see article/Power-of-Suggestion/136907). If you try to replicate the experiment you are unlikely to get the same finding. Now, it’s impossible to perfectly replicate any experiment (you’ll be in a different time to start with, with different researchers, respondents and so on) and these lab results are affected by even tiny changes. They are the ‘delicate flowers’, the ‘show ponies’ of the research world. Outside the lab, out in the real world, these (always surprising) results seldom, if ever, occur and when they do they are usually far, far weaker."

1 comment:

  1. Don't think this will convince the religious emotions-only-ads zealots, even if it comes out of the mouth of one of their deities.


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