Monthly Archives: May 2009

Is There Really No Such Thing as Bad Publicity?

Following on from my post on the unconscious nature of advertising, Duane Cunninghamasked whether it was fair to say that any exposure was good for a brand?  The old chestnut of “there’s no such thing as bad PR”. Unsurprisingly perhaps, when it comes to consumer behaviour and the workings of the consumer mind, there isn’t a clear cut answer in my opinion.  Let me explain… For the most part exposure to a brand works positively.  As I’ve mentioned previously, the unconscious (largely visual) detection of brands builds unconscious familiarity and this alone is preferable to nothing.  When the brand is encountered consciously, it feels slightly familiar, safer and therefore slightly preferable to a previously unencountered rival. Often there will be some associations with that brand.  It might be a high street sign, in which case the associations are with the environment of that high street (perhaps upmarket, perhaps skanky!).  Even […]

Unconscious Advertising

Firstly, thanks for all your comments, I find them encouraging, constructive and inspiring. Secondly, Yann has raised another question.  Questions are wonderful things and, yet again, Yann has raised something that causes me to think about the subject of consumer behaviour (which I love to do) and given me a direction for this edition of my blog. Yann asked whether our unconscious associations of brands are more influenced by broader environmental factors than advertising; things like what we hear (reputation). Of course, there isn’t a single, clear-cut answer to this.  It is certainly the case that, were someone to hear an involving account (story) from a friend (social proof / trusted source / someone like me) this would trump an advertising message.  In this case, the powerful associations primed by the friend’s account work very similarly to negative personal experience: as soon as the brand name appears (be it at the […]

The Unconscious Impact of Brand Exposure

Yesterday’s article, for all its mediocrity (sorry about that), did spark an interesting question from Yann.  He questioned the extent to which the ads I was discussing would generate business for those companies. As I mentioned in my reply to Yann, at least part of the way in which advertising works is to “register” a brand or product at an unconscious level. Given the way in which the unconscious mind works (by associations) I’m convinced that the unconscious benefit is likely to be maximised when unconscious awareness of the ad coincides with positive emotions.  Even if the humour has little or no relevance to the product, the fact that the two exist together at that moment in time can have a positive impact. Part of the support for my theory comes from the fact that the only meaningful correlation that people who track advertising have been able to identify from […]

Making Financial Marketing Funny

Humour is often used to make an advert engaging.  What’s less well understood is that it also helps to create positive emotions which are then unconsciously associated with the brand or product concerned. The tricky part is that humour is a relatively personal thing and if your ad isn’t funny to enough people the strategy can backfire in exactly the same way. I had hoped to show you a recent Barclays Bank advert, but You Tube let me down – it’s there but with no sound (and the soundtrack makes this particular ad work). Instead here are two examples.  The first is an ad that you’ve probably seen before – it spread superbly when it was first released onto You Tube because it’s extremely funny (at least many people think so). And here’s another for a rival credit card that was shown repeatedly in the UK and seems, to me […]