‘You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.’ –Ronald Reagan


This article examines the extent to which advertising outside of an explicit campaign environment has the potential to benefit the electoral fortunes of incumbent politicians.

We make use of a novel case of non-campaign advertising, that of North Carolina Secretary of Labor Cherie Berry (R-NC), who has initiated the practice of having her picture and name displayed prominently on official inspection placards inside all North Carolina elevators. We […] find that Berry outperformed other statewide Republican candidates in the 2012 North Carolina elections. Our findings suggest that candidates can use this form of advertising to indirectly improve their electoral fortunes.

{ American Politics Research | Continue reading }

‘Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?’ —T.S. Eliot


We meta-analyzed the effects of sexual media, violent media, sexual ads, and violent ads on the advertising outcomes of brand memory, brand attitudes, and buying intentions. The meta-analysis included 53 experiments involving 8,489 participants.

Analyses found that brands advertised in violent media content were remembered less often, evaluated less favorably, and less likely to be purchased than brands advertised in nonviolent, nonsexual media. Brands advertised using sexual ads were evaluated less favorably than brands advertised using nonviolent, nonsexual ads. There were no significant effects of sexual media on memory or buying intentions. There were no significant effects of sexual or violent ads on memory or buying intentions.

As intensity of sexual ad content increased, memory, attitudes, and buying intentions decreased.

When media content and ad content were congruent (e.g., violent ad in a violent program), memory improved and buying intentions increased.

Violence and sex never helped and often hurt ad effectiveness.

{ Psychological Bulletin/American Psychological Association | PDF }

related { Allegation that ad-serving companies deliberately slow down web pages to maximise profit }

Damn your yellow stick. Where are we going?


Marketers often seek to minimize or eliminate interruptions when they deliver persuasive messages in an attempt to increase consumers’ attention and processing of those messages. However, in five studies conducted across different experimental contexts and different content domains, the current research reveals that interruptions that temporarily disrupt a persuasive message can increase consumers’ processing of that message. As a result, consumers can be more persuaded by interrupted messages than they would be by the exact same messages delivered uninterrupted.

{ Journal of Consumer Research/Stanford Business | Continue reading }

art { Teppei Kaneuji, Ghost in the Liquid Room (lenticular) #9, 2014 }

‘Brand ambassador grabbed my ass! Then found a QR code coupon for a butt firming cream there. Pulled muscle trying to scan it #sxsw’ —Tim Geoghegan


If we meet offline and you look nothing like your pics you’re buying me drinks until you do


{ Bert Stern, Vogue, April 1962 | Stella Artois ad, 2010 }

‘We should not be upset that others hide the truth from us, when we hide it so often from ourselves.’ –La Rochefoucauld


Flattery—the art of offering pleasing compliments—is one of the oldest and most commonly used of persuasion methods. Research in this area provides a reason for the popularity of this tactic. Put simply, flattery works. Various studies have shown that the target of the flattery evaluates the flatterer positively because human beings have a basic desire to believe in good things about themselves.

What happens, however, in situations in which the flattery is “bogus”—that is, when the recipient knows that the flatterer is offering an insincere compliment, presumably driven by an ulterior motive? Instances of insincere flattery abound in the marketing context, such as the salesperson who offers prospective customers profuse compliments on how an expensive outfit makes them look. […]

In cases such as these, in which the prospective consumer is aware of a clear ulterior motive underlying the compliment, both research and intuition suggest that recipients will discount the flattering comments and correct their otherwise favorable reactions. Though in partial agreement with this premise, the current investigation proposes that despite such correction, a positive impact of flattery may still be observed. […]

The authors show that even when flattery by marketing agents is accompanied by an obvious ulterior motive that leads targets to discount the proffered compliments, the initial favorable reaction (the implicit attitude) continues to coexist with the dis- counted evaluation (the explicit attitude). Furthermore, the implicit attitude has more influential consequences than the explicit attitude, highlighting the possible subtle impact of flattery even when a person has consciously corrected for it.

{ Journal of Marketing Research | PDF }

‘Death is the only thing we haven’t succeeded in completely vulgarizing.’ —Aldous Huxley


Leveraging the insight that periods, while a pain, also bring women together, JWT has created an augmented reality app that combines Chinese consumers’ love of technology, cute characters and selfies into a new branded platform for Sofy sanitary pads.

{ Campaign Asia | Continue reading | Thanks Tim }

‘If you’re critical, you’re already out of the game.’ —Jeff Koons


This paper considers when a firm’s freely chosen name can signal meaningful information about its quality, and examines a setting in which it does.

Plumbing firms with names beginning with an “A” or a number receive five times more service complaints, on average. In addition, firms use names beginning with an “A” or a number more often in larger markets, and those that do have higher prices.

These results reflect consumers’ search decisions and extend to online position auctions: plumbing firms that advertise on Google receive more complaints, which contradicts prior theoretical predictions but fits the setting considered here.

{ Ryan C. McDevitt | PDF }

You’ve changed. That sparkle in your eyes has gone.


Merely changing the face of a model in an ad increases the number of potential purchasers by as much as 15% (8% on average), according to a study being published by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.

{ Informs | Continue reading }

art { Martial Raysse, Life is so complex, 1966 | more }

related { Real-time makeup using projection mapping }

‘I have therefore found it necessary to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith.’ —Kant


The present research provides empirical evidence that drug names may entail implicit promises about their therapeutic power. We asked people to evaluate the perceived efficacy and risk associated with hypothetical drug names and other secondary related measures. We compared opaque (without meaning), functional (targeting the health issue that the drug is meant to solve) and persuasive (targeting the expected outcome of the treatment) names. Persuasive names were perceived as more efficacious and less risky than both opaque and functional names, suggesting that names that target the expected outcome of the drug may bias the perception of risk and efficacy.

{ Applied Cognitive Psychology }

oil on canvas { Vincent van Gogh, Skull of a Skeleton with Burning Cigarette , 1886 }

The bags under my eyes right now are reaaaal



{ Why the Trix Rabbit Looks Down on You | FiveThirtyEight | full story }

Ivan Ilych saw that he was dying, and he was in continual despair


People whose cellphones move at a certain clip across city parks between 5:30 and 8:30 every morning are flagged by Viasense’s algorithm as “early morning joggers.” When you give your smartphone permission to access your location, you may be sharing a lot more than you realize.

{ WSJ | Continue reading }

We show that easily accessible digital records of behavior, Facebook Likes, can be used to automatically and accurately predict a range of highly sensitive personal attributes including: sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious and political views, personality traits, intelligence, happiness, use of addictive substances, parental separation, age, and gender. […]

Table S1 presents a sample of highly predictive Likes related to each of the attributes. For example, the best predictors of high intelligence include “Thunderstorms,” “The Colbert Report,” “Science,” and “Curly Fries,” whereas low intelligence was indicated by “Sephora,” “I Love Being A Mom,” “Harley Davidson,” and “Lady Antebellum.” Good predictors of male homosexuality included “No H8 Campaign,” “Mac Cosmetics,” and “Wicked The Musical,” whereas strong predictors of male heterosexuality included “Wu-Tang Clan,” “Shaq,” and “Being Confused After Waking Up From Naps.” Although some of the Likes clearly relate to their predicted attribute, as in the case of No H8 Campaign and homosexuality, other pairs are more elusive; there is no obvious connection between Curly Fries and high intelligence.

Moreover, note that few users were associated with Likes explicitly revealing their attributes. For example, less than 5% of users labeled as gay were connected with explicitly gay groups, such as No H8 Campaign, “Being Gay,” “Gay Marriage,” “I love Being Gay,” “We Didn’t Choose To Be Gay We Were Chosen.” […]

Predicting users’ individual attributes and preferences can be used to improve numerous products and services. For instance, digital systems and devices (such as online stores or cars) could be designed to adjust their behavior to best fit each user’s inferred profile. Also, the relevance of marketing and product recommendations could be improved by adding psychological dimensions to current user models. For example, online insurance advertisements might emphasize security when facing emotionally unstable (neurotic) users but stress potential threats when dealing with emotionally stable ones.

{ PNAS | PDF }

related { PhD candidate in sociology explains his experiences working for Facebook }

photo { Albert Moldvay, A woman shops for a fur coat at Bergdorf Goodman in New York City, 1964 }