The potential futures of advertising

A few things that seemed interconnected in the daily feeds today. Firstly, a letter written sixty years ago by an angry young copywriter named Bill Bernbach, complaining to his bosses that his industry was in danger of stagnating:

“The danger lies in the temptation to buy routinized men who have a formula for advertising. The danger lies in the natural tendency to go after tried-and-true talent that will not make us stand out in competition but rather make us look like all the others.”

Can’t help but feel that the industry must have stopped listening, and the recent rise of the web and viral marketing has caught them on the hop. New models, new challenges.

But never fear, there’s always a way to cheat: look at this piece about using fMRI brain scans to determine recognition patterns in the brains of people being shown different models of cars:

“When Daimler Chrysler recently showed pictures of their cars while measuring brainwave activity with an fMRI scanner, they found that sports cars stimulated the reward centre of the brain, which is also the area stirred by drugs, alcohol and sex. The front view of the cars, with distinctive facade and headlight “eyes”, subjects showed brain activity in the facial recognition centre of the brain.”

Now I’m a big fan of science, but the thought of it becoming the inescapable tool of marketeers is a far from pleasant one. I suppose it’s too much to hope for that companies might just focus on making brilliant, necessary products – instead of pissing away millions on brainwashing us into buying crap we don’t need. Meh.

One thought on “The potential futures of advertising”

  1. Too expensive to develop good products. Cheaper and more cost effective to trick us into wanting the ones they’ve already made.

    There was a pretty good story on Escape Pod about this recently, which was a re-audio from an F&SF story. Did you catch that one?

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