“Advertising has never convinced me to buy anything,” she said as she hitched up her Diesel jeans, put her Prada sunglasses atop her head, and unscrewed the cap from a bottle of Evian.
We all have had the experience of listening to a roomful of focus group participants aver that advertising has never changed their minds about anything or persuaded them to buy a single product. They’re wrong, of course, but it doesn’t mean that they weren’t utterly sincere when they said it. There’s an interesting piece called “Our Secret Attitude Changes” on Psyblog about a 1973 experiment that demonstrated how easy it is to change people’s point of view on a subject even though they will almost never admit to their having changed it. It’s quite a fascinating look at how the mind smoothes out the cognitive speed bumps it encounters as we adapt to ever-changing information.
This study also raises some interesting questions for marketing professionals. Specifically, how we should (and should we not) measure success? It would appear that methodologies that rely on members of the target audience crediting advertising with creating a change in perception (and subsequently purchasing decisions) could be underreporting effectiveness dramatically. How much? I leave that to Michael Fassnacht and his ilk to work out. As I write this, they are sitting in darkened rooms that smell of old yogurt and twice-worn socks, playing with differential equations the way the rest of us play with Silly Putty.