Can Commercials Change Minds on Social Issues?

I recently finished reading social psychologist Albert Bandura’s new book, Moral Disengagement, in which he presents what amounts to an extensive literature survey on how social interactions can influence personal behaviors. Among other things, he presents studies of how using radio and television serial programs scripted to present themes like women’s empowerment and using communication rather than violence to resolve disputes have worked in various countries around the world.

There is no question we are all influenced by what we see and hear others do. And as Stanford researchers Reeves and Nass have shown us in The Media Equation, what we see on TV is just as real to us as interaction with a real person, one-on-one.

So, if serial dramas (soap operas, if you will) can bring about change, what about the micro-dramas of commercials and advertising?

Here is a link to a pretty long spot for Heineken that is very thought-provoking and, at least in my view, very needed right now. Take a look at this piece from the Ladders job search site and see if you agree.

eSports on the Rise and Gamers are Altruistic

Great article in the current Ad Age about the incredible growth of eSports. The article notes that one young man dropped out of school to play games like Call of Duty full time and claimed he would be making more money than his parents. In fact, his earnings came to over $200,000 in prize money.

Advertisers are getting on board and Ad Age points out they need to be in it for the long haul or gamers and their fans may punish them economically. Turns out that gamers seem to be a pretty altruistic bunch. What’s up with that?

Given all the negative attention about violent video games and their supposed effects on aggression and violence, what accounts for this altruism? Seems like a very ripe area for some empirical research to me!


Is the End Near for Today’s Hollywood?

An excellent article that appeared recently in Vanity Fair makes a very good case that Hollywood is already as dead as the pre-Internet music business. It just doesn’t know it yet, and–what’s worse–is in denial, just like all those former music biz moguls.

I for one have long felt that stars are way overpaid (along with pro sports figures), but the picture (pardon the pun) may be even darker than that.

Read this and please feel free to comment.


Ah, Good Old Emotion…

So here’s an article from Adweek about a commercial (which you can view on their site) that aired during the Oscars for Revlon’s new “Love Project” public service campaign. It will be interesting to see how this rolls out. I would argue this is a very strong opening statement and somewhat unexpected from Revlon, which, let’s face it, is pretty much “your grandmother’s makeup” because of its longevity in the marketplace. Perhaps this will make the brand relevant again.

We know that in the fragrance biz Revlon has about .5% market share, compared to market leaders L’Oreal (20%) and Estee Lauder (7%). (source: Forbes, 12-28-2015)

One reason I love this spot is that it reminds me of Dave Brubeck’s album, “Jazz; Red Hot and Cool,” (recorded live in 1954 and 1955) with an album cover featuring Dave at the piano and a very attractive woman in a sensual, bright red dress and matching bright red lipstick. The lipstick, as the liner notes revealed, was Revlon’s new shade, “Jazz, Red Hot and Cool.” It’s one of the earliest examples of product placement I know of. Lots of companies in those days were TV show sponsors (think Kraft Theater, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Death Valley Days [20 Mule Team Borax sole sponsor]). But Revlon staked out a whole new claim with a record album tie-in.


And here’s that album cover.

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New Media Creating New Brains?

According to an article in Time magazine that cites recent research at Stanford, McGill, and USC, people who use their smart phones, tablets, and other devices to constantly surf the ‘net and engage in social media may be re-making their brain’s hard wiring…and not in a good way.


According to article author Markham Heid, one’s anterior cingulate cortex, where reflective thought takes place, becomes atrophied and loses functionality. The brain becomes overloaded with constant over-stimulation of “always on” connectedness and starts losing the ability to take a break and let “aha!” moments rise through the soup of data and impressions absorbed both consciously and unconsciously.

Earlier research about the harmful effects of multi-tasking is reinforced by this newer work.

Coppola’s Wine Business & Media

Coppola wines has introduced a series of wines whose labels and names come from several of Coppola’s signature films. Here’s the picture that was included in a promotoinal email I received today from BevMo.


Three of Coppola’s biggest hits, Jaws, King Kong, and Wizard of Oz, are now a Chardonnay, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Merlot, with prices that range from $18 to $20. These days, that’s not much more than the price of a movie ticket.

Clearly, the psychology of having ahit in one milieu is now spilling over into a completely different milieu. Given the recent penchant to give wines names like “Arrogant Bastard” and “Bitch,” I guess it’s nos surprise to see another naming convention enter the fray. Thankfully, at least this one is less profane.

Mashable’s Ad Program

Is anyone else out there as angry with Mashable as I now am, thanks to their ultra-intrusive online video ads? As soon as I click on an email link, I start hearing a commercial that’s playing on the Mashable site. Often, I cannot even easily find the commercial that’s playing so I can pause or stop it.

As a media psychologist I have trouble understanding what Mashable thinks it is gaining by alienating its viewership for the sake of paid ads no one wants to view or hear. Their paying customers, sooner or later, are going to abandon Mashable once they find out that their intended audience is being turned off by this particular application of advertising technology. As P&G’s A.G. Lafley has said, “The customer is in charge.”

So, Mashable, why are you trying to stop customer control?  Mashable needs to think more about what engagement means and how it works. Consultation services are available….

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