Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Have you noticed how spontaneous advertising is? Would you have been enticed if they wanted you to stop and think? I doubt so.


Spend a day to watch several commercials. You’d notice that the commercials entice you with a call to action; most of them aim to draw out the spontaneous spark in you. How many commercials have you watched highlighting the pros and cons of a product? Any advertiser would be doomed if he wanted you to think, reflect and consider other competing products, before making a choice.

But that is what advertising is all about. Advertising is always designed so you have to “make” an on-the-spot decision, on the subjective value of some enticing display of graphics, sound and facial expressions, that the product was “right” for you and only that product was what you wanted. Advertisers, as some may say, depend on your acting on intuition and not on reflection.

A recent study by some scientists at Harvard, entitled spontaneous giving and calculated greed suggests that the more intuitive people are, the more cooperative they would be rather than being selfish; and vice versa if they became more reflective.

If advertisers tend to draw out the intuitive deviously, does it mean that in a sense they are factors for human cooperation?

I’ll digress a little by highlighting some of the factors that might make intuition possible.

If the time frame that you were given to make your mind about the product is very short, you’d depend on your intuition, and not your reflective aspect. The average time for an advert is about one minute thirty seconds. Advertising definitely falls into this category. An advert would be a droll if it lasted more than thirty (30) seconds. Your innate skills are also a factor for drawing out your intuitive side. If you tend to think in terms of “we” rather than “me”, then you have been hard-wired to cooperate rather than be selfish and withdraw into your greed. Advertising serves then as a buffer against greed? On the contrary. Experience has also shown that people who self-motivate themselves tend to be generally cooperative, always want to believe the good in others, than people who dwell on the negative. Finally, when we are faced with various choices on “the spur of the moment,” our reflective side is called on to act spontaneously, overshadowing the intuitive side.

Consider the above points and ask yourself: “On which does advertising hang?”

It usually hangs on the last – advertising attempts to overshadow your intuitive side and force you to make “spur of the moment” choices based on a craftily and artistically manufactured publicly consumable deliverable called adverts. It makes you to think in terms of “this” versus “that”. This is anti-intuitive and anti-cooperative. “We” versus “them” is another way of putting it. Where advertising wants to play on the “wisdom of the crowd”, the question arises: “What crowd?” A crowd or “we” that was defined by the advertiser himself.

So you better stop and think when you find yourself humming that jingle for some popular brand that you heard on the television…or whatever media.

But that is what makes advertising enticing. They have developed the art of asking you to make reflective choices (act selfishly) within the space of intuitive choices (act cooperatively). You know what – they have succeeded.

Welcome to the age of greed.


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