Advertising IQ wrap-up

Mental findings of the week:

1. Language influences thought. Students were shown a series of clay-model aliens and then asked to group them into friendly and unfriendly categories. If the students were told two types of names for the aliens, they were able to sort them much faster. The simple process of naming, the researchers found, helps people make decisions faster. The implication is brand names can guide behavior.

2. Outside outweighs inside. Too many marketers tell stories from the inside out, focused on product attributes, vs. the outside in, focused on the key customer need. Brandflakes uses Quiznos as a case study in how honesty — about what your customers want — is stronger messaging than focusing on your internal product parts. Note to hospitals: This is why billboards showing photos of doctors are boring.

3. The last touch didn’t cause the action. Rival clans in New Guinea kill each other based on histories of their fathers’ deaths. This points out that every action is precipitated by a long chain of prior influences; a good reminder for marketers that measuring cost per inquiry by media channel may be flawed logic. Customer action is the culmination of multiple prior contacts.

4. No sometimes means maybe. Copyranter, the hyperpopular sex-in-advertising blogger, shut down for good last Friday only to report back for duty after finding a way to get paid. From the buzz on blogs, you would have thought someone had threatened to turn off the internet. Next time a supplier or customer walks away, play nice, because they may soon be back.

Photo: Hologram of human brain by Mararie.

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