Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Attitude Toward the Ad As "Foot-in-the Door"

No one really wants to talk about buying insurance, but sometimes we need it.

Centraal Beheer is one of the largest insurance companies in the Netherlands.  Based in the city of Apeldoorm, the company is known for its lighter touch when it comes to reaching out to the marketplace.

The call to action translates as "Just call Apeldoorm." Their humor is so consistently fresh and to the point that the slogan has become an everyday utterance when people encounter unexpected problems.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Altruistic Behavior

As I have argued previously, and in my 2006 journal article, altruistic motivations are the strongest basis for sustainable relationships.

The importance of altruistic motives is clearly seen in social relationships, yet altruistic behavior is not commonly recognized when it comes to commercial relationships in the marketplace.

At first, this new John Lewis commercial from the UK seems to be all about the youth and his ardent anticipation of Christmas Day.

We think we understand his motivation, and are surprised to learn he was driven by the motivation to give rather than receive.

This commercial has redefined what holiday advertising can be. In what has become the season of hype, John Lewis has given us all an endearing gift.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Benefits of Attributes

Product attributes are valuable insofar as they relate to benefits.

Here, the problem-solution format is employed to position a brand as a counterpoise to designer brands in the same product category.

Simplicity is offered as a solution to frivolous charm.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Voice of Change

Apple is a remarkable company for many reasons. One is quality advertising. The work is consistently highly strategic - true to the organization's core values - and dramatized in human terms.


The voice is that of Steve Jobs. The commercial was made in 1997.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

"Participatory Observations" and Mood Modulation on Social Media

The "Uses and Gratifications Perspective" is a conceptual structure focusing on the kinds of benefits or utilities audience members report they derive from the media they use. This approach originated with early radio audience research done by Herta Herzog in the late 1930s. She studied why people listen to radio programs.

Since then, this perspective has been applied in turn to each new electronic medium. There is a litany of "uses" and "gratifications" including such as "escape," "surveillance or news," and "value reinforcement."  Each new electronic medium has the potential to refine or add to our understanding of a vast field of audience benefits.

When it comes to Facebook, a somewhat recent and highly popular new electronic medium, what are the possible new benefits that users may derive?

Here is a typical kind of posting with follow-up comments found every day on Facebook.

Commonplace happenings are posted and can become the basis for a wider commentary. For a few moments, readers may smile and then add their own responses to what may become an evolving spontaneous narrative.

A simple posting becomes a "participatory observation" with its own narrative structure.  This does seem to fit in the broad uses and gratifications category of "value reinforcement." Yet, the lightness of humor appears to bring a unique flavor to this benefit that we might call "Mood Modulation."

For more perspective on the Psychology of Advertising, please see Advertising and the Arc of History.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Emotion and Social Media

Emotional response can play important roles in the motivation to elaborate (think) and the motivation to share.

One of the most admired pieces at this year's Cannes Film Festival was a short social media film called "We Miss You" produced for the World Wildlife Fund.

The film's director, Hanna Maria Heidrich, won the Best Film School Young Director Award. The film was also awarded a Best European Branded Short and Special Jury Award.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hello There

Electronic media reach across time and place to bring more people closer together than ever before.

This new commercial from TalkTalk, the British broadband company, takes a wonderfully strategic and creative approach to remind us we still need to "reach out."

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Viral Involvement

MTV Brazil is bursting balloons to celebrate its 21st year.

MTV always strives to be on the right-hand side of the Wundt Curve. This is a conceptual basis for calibrating human response to creativity to identify the realm of pleasing realization.

In this day and age no organization can be what it was yesterday. Now you have to burst a lot of balloons to stay ahead of the game.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thoughts, Feeling and Action

Good advertising invites people to think. It is even better when the invitation to think evokes corresponding emotion.

From childhood onward, we learn to associate situations with specific physiological responses. These felt physiological responses are given labels. We call them emotions.

When we feel certain emotions, specific action tendencies may also arise. We may be attracted, or pushed away. That is the basis for employing the Cognitive Theory of Emotion in connection with persuasion.

This 1986 commercial is an effective demonstration of The Cognitive Theory of Emotion. We observe, we think, we feel, we are surprised, and we think again.

As a public service, this commercial places the brand, the Norwegian Red Cross, on the high plain of thought leadership when it comes to caring, altruistic behavior. It enhances its position as the kind of organization people want to support.

This commercial also reminds us of Edward Scripture's original condensation of the field of Psychology as "Thinking, Feeling, and Doing." Scripture's title for one of the original Psychology textbooks (1895) might serve as well for the field of Advertising. Better advertising should invite the audience to think and to feel.

This perspective is worth remembering as we move from the age of the "telephone" to a new frontier of communication capabilities.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Advertising and Polydactyl Cats

Polydactyl cats have a genetic mutation that gives them more than the usual number of toes on their paws.

What if the extra toes became opposable thumbs?

Would these cats turn pages of books and begin to read?

And, would they begin opening milk bottles for themselves?

In the past week, this commercial for Cravendale Milk has garnered over 1 million YouTube viewers.

It directs viewers to become followers and learn more at The Milk Matters website.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Creating Creativity

Easter is just around the corner, four weeks away. This means we will be seeing Cadbury's annual delightful mixed metaphor advertising of rabbits, eggs, and chocolate. 

It all started, once upon a time, in the magical creative department of Young & Rubicam, New York.

This early 1980s commercial was the first of the "clucking bunnies."

It demonstrates a fundamental principle of creativity. You can't have a new idea, if you only have one idea. It is the collision of metaphors that gives this work its enduring charm and meaning.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Mood, Memory and Advertising Effects

Psychological studies have shown that mood states at the time of learning associate themselves with the material being learned.  Positive mood states are more likely than negative to promote learning and recall of material congruent with mood.

Studies also show that people in positive mood states tend to do a better job of integrating new information into their beliefs.

This highly symbolic and positive affect producing commercial for the World Wildlife Fund was created in Mexico City, Mexico.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What Advertising Can Be

This 1952 Chevrolet commercial is instructive about what advertising can be.

On one level it is a statement for the brand, seemingly just an entertaining commercial celebrating the latest features of a new car. On another level, this commercial goes far beyond the brand to define what a better life can be for the entire economy and society.

In this way this Chevrolet commercial acted to define the entire outlook of an era and a nation building its future. Interstate highways were constructed and national television networks linked the nation. People looked to progress and the prospect of new experiences and fuller lives.

The recent two-minute Chrysler commercial “Imported From Detroit” is of a similar genre.  However, this commercial speaks of the car and the people who made the car. The connection to the economy and society is less evident.

Looking back to the Chevrolet commercial, we see how advertising can more clearly participate in the economy and society helping define a productive path to a nation's future.

This is more than cheerleading, it is organizing an outlook to build a better future for everyone. So, today, when so many voices are holding us back, someone or something needs to speak clearly for the future and help take us there.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Perspective on Valuation of Facebook

In April of 2009 I posted commentary on what the valuation of Facebook might mean in terms of the daily audience it accumulates. Let’s look again. 

Here is a recent table from Nielsen Online showing the magnitude of the Facebook audience within the United States as of December, 2010.

There were 135.602 million Facebook visitors in the United States alone. This amounts to 68.3 percent reach of active Internet users in the US. 
Looking back to April of 2009, Nielsen reported 34.8 percent reach for Facebook with about 54 million visitors.  Also at that time visitors averaged about two and a-half hours on the site or about 5 minutes a day.
As shown in the chart, people are now averaging about seven hours per month or about 14 minutes per day. Clearly, some are on the site longer each day, but the average has reached the quarter-hour level.

Now, turning to attention as the most valuable of all commodities, it is within this quarter-hour average daily window that the valuation of the company must make sense.
The latest reports place the valuation of Facebook at about $52 billion.  Looking at this from an audience accumulation perspective, in the United States alone, this valuation equates to a little over $380 per each member of the currently active Facebook audience. In April of 2009, this same calculation resulted in $50 per audience member in the US. 

On a world-wide basis, the calculation is a little over $190 per visitor, and the average daily time on the site drops substantially. 
Clearly, the audience size and daily time on the site have been increasing dramatically. Moreover, we are seeing Facebook engage with the civic space of entire nations in dynamic ways.  But, it is within this magic quarter-hour daily “attention structure” that the advertising model will have to pay out for Facebook.  This continues to be an intriguing story.
Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mindful - Playful

Honda has just released a commercial for it's five-door coupe known in Europe as the Honda Jazz.

This commercial projects creative energy with a "mindful - playful" brand personality. Mindfulness comes from the strategic premise of flexibility to meet unanticipated needs, while playfulness arises from Dr. Seuss-style writing and imagery. 

Minnesota's own Garrison Keillor performed the voice-over, adding his own home-spun charm to complete the storytelling.

For more perspective on psychological theory and the development of persuasive advertising, please see Strategic Power of the Theory of Planned Behavior.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Super Banner

Chrysler's outstanding Super Bowl commercial - Imported From Detroit - was a signal of things to come (scroll below for earlier post).

Here is Chrysler's banner from the top of today's New York Times. Clearly they know where to find me.

This is exceptional banner design employing symbols with wonderful copywriting... "A car you don't have to own to be proud of."  

Now that is courageous copy.

The banner takes you to a site where you can view the Imported From Detroit commercial and learn more about the Chrysler 200. Just scroll down to February 8th below if you missed seeing this commercial on the Super Bowl.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Super Sunday's Super Brand

People thirst for more than good football on Super Sunday. So beverage commercials are always plentiful. This year was no exception, although only one beverage brand presented exceptional advertising.

Coca-Cola's corporate core competencies focus on distribution and branding.  And, when it comes to advertising, no beverage sends it's brand signal more effectively.

In this commercial - called Border Crossing - we see the "gift-like act" that is an essential element of the Coca-Cola brand concept.  "Happiness" may be how people speak of this campaign in contemporary terms, but the enduring metaphor of the brand involves the universal gesture of friendship. This metaphor was also portrayed in the Dragon commercial for Coca-Cola.

It is this underlying concept that differentiates the brand and raises it above all other beverages. Brands desperate for attention resort to stunts, while Coca-Cola sustains its leadership secure in the knowledge it stands for core values shared by people everywhere in the world.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Imported From Detroit

Automobile makers dominated commercial time on the 2011 Super Bowl. Their commercials were all over the lot. As the dust settles, one image remains. Chrysler's "Imported From Detroit."

In two sweeps of the second hand Chrysler moved to seize the high ground in automotive imagery. The ground was there for the taking. The new GM could have seized it, and Ford certainly has a claim to it with it's well positioned products.

Nielsen audience research reported the Chevy Camaro commercial set a television audience record with 119,628,000 viewers, but it was a typical car spot - attractive woman with attractive car - and Chrysler's story will outlast it.

The signal on Sunday was that it is the new owners of Chrysler who really know the value of brands and how to communicate them.  And it didn't hurt that the advertising agency and commercial director took a page from the playbook for the opening credits of the Sopranos.

A commercial like this is no accident. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for Chrysler.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Best Buy Wins Super Bowl

Let's put the USA Today Super Bowl ad liking ratings aside (see earlier post below).  It's really a distracting "trash sport" when it comes to getting down to business.

For my money, I think Best Buy placed the smartest, most successful commercial on this year's Super Bowl.

When it comes to business and advertising strategy, it is hard to beat their offer to help us rid ourselves of yesterday's electronic millstones and replace them with the latest good things to do what we really want. Why not get something for our old technology, let it go properly into a recycling program, and happily move ahead with a better product?

When it comes to advertising creativity, Best Buy smartly employed two popular culture icons (metaphors) to bring its offer to life.

Just think.... it is time to "Ozzy that old phone" and "Bieber-Up" with the future.

Congrats to the people at Best Buy.  Smart business.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Super Bowl Advertising Regressing to the Mean

The vibe on yesterday's Super Bowl advertising reflects a bit of disappointment. 

Here's the trend line on the USA Today ratings for the "most liked" Super Bowl commercial in each of the last 23 Super Bowls. The newspaper uses a ten-point liking scale and they put together a small sample audience each year that is said to be generally reflective of the audience for the game.

This year, the Bud Light and Doritos "Dog Trick" spots tied at the top with 8.35 ratings.

The dotted gray line is the 8.6 average for the 23 years of data. You can notice a phenomenon known as "regression to the mean."  Ratings climbed when the scores were first reported, but now appear to be settling into an even pattern. This suggests advertisers have developed a "formula" to reduce risk.

Advertising, of course, thrives on intelligent risk-taking. Formulas are bad things when it comes to the most productive advertising creativity. So, it is probably time for some notable advertisers to move beyond slap-stick and pet tricks.

Although, they may be satisfied with "Professionally OK."

There is always next year.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Super Commercial

This new spot from VW excites us about the shape of things to come.

The commercial employs the "beetle metaphor" to promise performance like never before.  It is a car commercial without a car, demonstrating the power of original ideas in advertising.

It is charming, involving, and compelling.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Old School Super Sunday

Super Sunday is shaping up for 2011.  We are now set for a classic “old school” match between storied teams seeking their latest claim to the Lombardi Trophy:  Packers versus Steelers. 

The teams feature strong quarterbacks: one established, the other ascending. Both teams play with strength and agility.

From the audience perspective, it is the East Coast versus the Midwest, with the West Coast drawn in by the California origins of the Packers QB.  Audience projections are as high as 110 million viewers for the big game.

And, the economy is on the rise with a full card of Super Bowl commercials for which some have paid as much as $3 million for 30 seconds.  

All this means there will be lots of football talk leading to the big game in two weeks.

Much of the suspense will be about advertising creativity.

Super Bowl advertising is all about “the reward theory of communication” where brands compete to garner favor by being highly entertaining.

Brands such as E-trade and have captured recent attention on Super Sundays employing talking babies and fooling around with monkeys.  It is borrowed interest that plays to their product benefits of ease of use and escape from less desirable working conditions.

Budweiser is the “old school” favorite. The King of Beers has long been the king of Super Bowl advertising.

It will be interesting to see if Bud can take the creative crown back this year schooling us with yet another new way to leverage their powerful brand equity.

(As it turned out, Bud settled for slap-stick stunts; and kissed their brand symbols good-bye).

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Welcome to the Psychology of Advertising

I began this blog on the Psychology of Advertising two years ago. The objective remains to provide observations about current advertising and point out helpful sources for thinking about advertising.

The blog is meant for anyone interested in advertising. People everywhere like to study advertising. Over the past two years, many thousands of people in over 70 countries have read one or more of the 100 postings. In fact, this 2011 welcome note is posting number 100.

The spring 2011 semester begins today. I will again be teaching a graduate course called Psychology of Advertising. This course has a long tradition at the University of Minnesota.

In the 1890s , Harlow Gale, a faculty member in the Philosophy Department, taught a seminar he called Psychology of Advertising. Today, Gale is acknowledged as the first person to conduct scientific studies of the effects of advertising.

So this Minnesota tradition continues. And, I am looking forward to posting observations here on this blog. Many postings will correspond with discussions that are taking place in class, but the postings will also be offered with the understanding there are avid readers who are advertising friends around the world.

Welcome to Psychology of Advertising.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Social Media Multiplier Effect and the Super Bowl

One of the virtues of better advertising is the "multiplier effect" that comes from people sharing information they find in advertising.

People are social. And we like to talk about what's new. We become closer to each other sharing the very latest fun and useful information with friends.

That is why advertising is best defined as "commercial news."

Now, there are at least two dimensions to commercial news:  what you have to say (the strategic information about the product), and how you say it (the creative component of the message).

In a few weeks, we will be seeing the annual "advertising theater" on the Super Bowl where companies serve up highly creative commercials in hopes for the greatest multiplier effects.

And of course electronic social media play an increasing role in the process.

Venables Bell & Partners, the San Francisco ad agency, has just reported a survey indicating 15 percent of the people who say they will watch the Super Bowl also say they plan to post game-related coments  on Facebook during the game.

The ad agency did some math with the expected audience size and average number of Facebook friends to project there will be 15 million people sending a total of about 2 billion game-related comments during the game.

The ad agency survey also found that about 25 percent of these people say they plan to be commenting on the Super Bowl commercials. That adds up to a projected electronic social media multiplier effect of about a half billion comments on Facebook alone.

With Super Bowl commercial prices holding constant in the 2.8 to 3 million dollar range, the growing multiplier effect from electronic social media is making a substantial contribution to advertising productivity.

For more perspective on psychological theory and the development of persuasive advertising, please see Advertising and the Arc of History.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Super Bowl 2011 Commercials

The 2011 Super Bowl is just four weeks away.  SB XLV will be played on February 6th at Dallas Cowboy Stadium.

Who will play that day? Well, who knows, but here's what is known about some of the commercials we are likely to see.

The most plentiful category is automotive. The eight sponsors in this grouping include Audi, BMW, Bridgestone, Chrysler, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes, and VW. BMW is said to be returning to this event after a 10-year absence.

E-commerce also includes a number of sponsors. Among them will be Careerbuilder, CarMax,, E-trade,, and HomeAway Inc. GoDaddy will feature Danica Patrick again this year as well as Jillian Michaels from America's Biggest Loser.

Snacks and Beverages comprise the third large grouping of sponsors. This includes Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Mars Brands, Doritos, and Pizza Hut. Doritos is to again feature commercials produced in their managed contest method.

Rounding out the list we know so far are Skechers and Motorola. Motorola held details until the last moment in 2010, but it seems likely they will feature their latest Droid-based phone this year.

This is the largest audience television program of the year. As always, it entertaining to watch the commercials and to consider The Psychology of Advertising.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Image and Influence

One of the longest standing concepts in advertising is the distinction between hard sell (or argumentative) copy and soft sell (or imagery). 

In many ways this is a false distinction when it comes to potential for impact.  Imagery, even what may seem to some to be merely charming entertainment absent a literal argument (or elaboration as some call it), may nevertheless rise to the highest levels of influence.

Here’s a recent public service commercial that draws upon the holidays for its advertising idea.

This PSA was placed on YouTube in early November, 2010, and has garnered about a half a million views to date.  

Although charming and entertaining in its approach, the spot asks for the order in a powerful way. It is idea driven – home for the holidays – with a strong call to action – no more homeless pets.

Best Friends Animal Society is based in Kanab, Utah.  From this seemly remote location this organization has exerted influence on how animals are treated with greater care throughout the United States.  This PSA is just one part of the organization’s strategic approach.

Copyright © 2011 by John Eighmey. All Rights Reserved.