From today’s The Boston Globe:
“It will be an ad like no other. Hoping to learn how advertising works, a Yale University psychologist has teamed up with a New York ad agency to design and test a novel marketing campaign — aimed at monkeys. The idea is to explore whether susceptibility to messages, such as those used in marketing, is deeply ingrained in humans because it is embedded in our DNA — inherited from long-ago ancestors common to us and monkeys — or whether it is a strictly human weakness. The research is part of a broader effort to understand the evolutionary origins of our thought processes and behaviors, especially when it comes to making economic decisions.”
Scoff if you will. As one who is enthusiastic for both evidence-based marketing and evolutionary biology, I think this is pretty cool.
Not that there aren’t potential problems.
It would be all too easy for researchers to infer effects they expect to see. Hopefully psychologist Laurie Santos will control for that.
Another problem is that not all ads are created equal. Suppose the tested ad produces no effect. Does that mean monkeys are impervious to advertising, or simply that the ad sucked?
For that matter, the advertising industry itself embraces all kinds of myths. I outline a number of them in my book Prove It Before You Promote It. If the ad creators indulge them — not just possible, but likely — the monkeys’ reactions will be incidental. But that won’t necessarily prevent anyone from taking those reactions, or their lack, as significant.
Finally, this research will inevitably provide fodder for people who think advertising controls minds, parents who blame marketing for their inability to tell their kids no, fat people with fat kids who claim they’d be svelte and healthy were it not for us damned advertisers, and people who refuse to live on a budget and blame their onerous debt on advertising.
Still, I like this research. At worst, it could yield nothing. At best, it could yield interesting information. About marketing, and about us. (Here is a link to the article in The Boston Globe.)
• • • In other news paling by comparison, the RESPONSE Agency is 17 years old today. • • •