Online Insights on FIVEaa Sunday February 5 2012

February 5, 2012

This month on Online Insights we explore mind control tricks from the underbelly of marketing, tease out some of Adelaide’s interesting bloggers, get a grip on British English and poke some fun at the lack lustre food photos shared in Social Media.

5 Creepy Forms of Mind Control You’re Exposed to Daily

Car facial expressions (Image by Cracked)
Cars have facial expressions

As many of you know, I am a marketer. And there are many different understandings of marketing.

Some people think of marketing as those hyped-up people in car parks trying to hustle sales of ‘car wash in a can’ or similar. Others think marketing is having a job in a large firm where all you do is design posters and arrange launch events.

But I work in that part of marketing called strategy development. This is where I believe the hard yards of marketing are exercised. Thought goes into the product or service being marketed, the ‘market’ or ‘markets’ being marketed, and all that will be involved in bringing the two together. Sometimes this results in tweaking, redesigning or cancelling a product or service. At other times it results in shifting the focus of the story and message surrounding the product or service so that it can resonate with a different audience.

However, I digress. Tonight’s link is to a comedic article about some of the ‘tricks’ researched by marketing boffins for extracting an extra degree of influence from customers.

While some might argue these insights into influencing human behaviour are creepy or sinister, others, uncluding me, will argue they are fascinating and all part of understanding that complex thing called human behaviour. Here are the ‘top 5’ in a nutshell:

  1. Cars have facial expressions and we buy accordingly. The article claims that the shaping of headlights and radiator grill on a car form facial expressions that attract some of us and repel others. What expression does your car sport? Mine is a Volvo so I wonder what its diagonal slash means. Maybe it is a serious frown?
  2. You emotionally bond with people you sing with. The finding here is that when we do things in physical harmony with others, we become closer to them. In the US, they often sing the national anthem before sporting events. The insight is it helps bond the crowd for a little extra crowd control among opposing supporters. They tried that at the Test Cricket at Adelaide Oval on Australia Day. It failed. Most Aussies don’t fall for the sacharin-sweet patriotism thing these days. Meanwhile, this ‘bonding’ insight works for speaking together or walking together. So, if you want to get close to someone, why not follow the lead of Jane Austin characters and ‘take a turn’ (go for a walk together) in the garden (or park) – you might yield better results! By the way, where else does communal singing happen where bonding might be advantageous? Church!
  3. The colour of a pill can trick you into thinking it is working. The article highlights how we subliminally associate different colours with different mood states and hence attribute different qualities to medications. It highlights how most of us associate blue with calmness and as a result, most sleeping tablet packaging is blue. We also attribute more potency to tablets that are red or brown.
  4. ‘Priming’ can play us like puppets. This refers to the bunches of flowers you often see at entrances to supermarkets. Few of us ever BUY them but the SIGHT of them supposedly ‘primes’ us into thinking FRESHNESS is all around, so that as you pick through the bruised, misshapen bananas you remain convinced it is all FRESH at least. This happens more in the US than here, most of our supermarkets prop a few plastic-looking posies in some industrial buckets near the cigarette counter. Intriguingly, the article refers to an experiment where uni students were asked a whole lot of questions relating to elderly people, while others were asked more ‘young person’ questions. The former students left the experiment walking more slowly, almost hobbling due, it seems, to the power of suggestion of elderlyness. Add that to your strategy play book!
  5. Our views on a subject depend on how it’s phrased. This one is hardly creepy to me, it is more about wording one’s questions correctly. It shows how wording the same thing differently can yield very different responses. The classic is asking people whether it is important ‘to vote’ or asking them whether it is important to be ‘a voter’. The second yielded much higher agreement levels. This is why in internet advertising and email marketing it is important to run A/B tests – you send the same message with different titles or offer phrasing and monitor the response rate. Yes, humans are amazingly complex!

There are lots of examples with these points and your can read points 1 nd 2 on this page on Cracked and points 3, 4, and 5 here.

Adelaide bloggers

Prettiest Princes (Image by Jessie Lee Caroyans)
Prettiest Princes (Image by Jessie Lee Caroyans)

For a long while now, a little twitter account called Adelaide Tweet has been retweeting tweets sent by people using the Adelaide hashtag, ie #adelaide, so that by following this one account you can get a glimpse at Adelaide’s tweetstory.

Well, the people behind the account have now crafted an index page of Adelaide blogs so that you can find some local voices to enjoy, learn from, or argue with.

While it is nice to know that our Online Insights blog is in the list, here are some favourites of mine from the list:

Tea Stained Afternoons: This blog by Adelaide Hills artist, Jessie Lee Caroyans. Her work is beautiful and her doodlings in her journal and on other things are lovely and inspiring. But what endears her equally as much to me is her ‘Adelaide’ voice. How is this for a reminiscence that most of us will resonate with in a blog post entitled ‘It was hot’ in which she desribes her oven-like house –  We have had a few consistently warm days now & everything seems to have a golden tinge. Although my little shoe-box sixed home is warm enough to melt your toes & the walk to & from work suddenly seems like a sweaty chore, the shampoo is hot when you squeeze it out & the leaves on everything are crispy, I can’t help but relish the balmy evenings… the sun soaked tomatoes sprouting in the garden & the opportunity to wear not much more than my ugliest tank top! Summer days like these will forever remind me of running through the sprinkler with my brother & sister, squealing at the shock of cold & making sure to avoid the bees on the grass. Of long lazy visits to my grandparents, my Grandfather sundrying apricots out the back, Nanny sitting beside the fan playing puzzles with us. I can remember fish & chips on the beach, digging holes in the sand that were big enough to sit in, trips to the swimming centre & fresh colourful salds for tea. These are warm, lovely memories in my mind & they trickle back to me as soon as things start to get toasty.

Eating Adelaide: This blog by Alex (not sure if that is male or female Alex) is a delight to read. When reviewing a restaurant and sharing a judgement, care is taken to explain the context. For example, the review on Windy Point Restaurant turns out to be positive this time around but there are some frank but gentle criticisms borne of previous visits that help set up the review. Even the recipes shared have a back story and context such as the Nigella Lawson Chocolate Bar (Alex’s dad found and modified the recipe) and the cucumber chilli salad was inspired by a bounty from Alex’s garden. I have found a down to earth voice I can trust in the Adelaide food and dining review world. PS I also am a great fan of Lamb’s Ears and Honey, also in the list, but for other reasons altogether as previously mentioned on this segment.

Public Opinion: This blog by Gary Sauer-Thomson is a treasure chest of links and material whenever you need a good ‘think’. This blog has a wonderful quote in its headline banner from the philosopher, Hegel (perfect for the German hour) – “…public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised”. That quote alone is poignant enough to reflect on for a whole segment but the main reason for singling out this blog and blogger is that it takes an insightful and critical view of the media and our political system while also sharing links to other sources of great commentary. I particularly liked his Australia Day reflection and how the Australian flags (many made in China) were flying loud and proud in Victor Harbor, often in tandem with messages like “Love It or Leave It”. I am glad he picked up on the crassness of this message and how ludicrous it is. Well worth a read.

To discover more great Adelaide voices, visit the Adelaide Blog index at the Adelaide Tweet website.

What the British say

What the British say (Image by Ray Monk)Ray Monk is a professor of philosphy at the University of Southampton and with the Olympics in London fast approaching I thought his guide to what the British REALLY mean when they speak might be timely.

This is simply an image file that Ray shared on Facebook and if you click the version here you will be able to read it in full.

Some of the highlights include:

  • With the greatest respect, which we hear as, He is listening to me, but what is actually being said is, I think you are an idot.
  • Quite good, which we hear as, Quite good, but what is actually being said is, A little disappointing.
  • That’s not bad, which we hear as, That’s poor, but what is actually being said is, That’s good.
  • That is a very brave proposal, which we hear as, He thinks I have courage, but what is actually being said is, You are insane.

To see it in its original context, open it in Ray’s Facebook photo gallery.

Cook Suck

Bacon in oil (Image via Cook Suck)We’ll finish off with something slightly amusing for those moments when you just want to read something poisonous.

Cook suck is a site where you can submit anonymous reviews of other people’s food photos together with your biting commentary, so to speak.

I like the concept, it is just a shame the commentary is often just base and vulgar rather than being clever and witty.

However, for a few minutes of distraction, you can work through a few helpings like these:

  • (to a picture of pasta, sauce and cheese) totally made it again did you? so jealous your work-life balance affords you the time to take ‘latina fresh’ packet pasta and place it in boiling water for dinner. i think you can tell a lot about a person by how finely they grate their cheese; the thicker/wider the grating, the more likely it is the person lives in a cosmopolitan suburb like strathpine and enjoys tv shows like today tonight. here’s the thing: just because it’s prepared at home doesn’t make it in any way home made.
  • (to a picture of bacon and beans swimming in dark, yellow oil) This plate has single-handedly ruined bacon for me. do you know how hard it is to ruin bacon? it goes with absolutely anything and everything and pretty much cooks itself. how much f***ing oil do you want to use? the ingredients are quite literally swimming in disgusting (pee) coloured grease. the caramelised onion looks like it was scraped out from underneath a car and that bean fungus (crap) looks like it’s growing off of the rest of the meal. again, i can’t get over how much fat/oil has found its way onto the plate – george foreman would be mortified.
  • (to a photo of a crowded roast with this caption – “Hubbys lush dinner but no hubby yet grrrr”)   Why would you put dinner on the table to go cold if hubby isn’t home? what good is that going to do to your clearly timorous relationship? You’re obviously not pressed for time; it looks like it took about 3 seconds to (make) this prison roast on the plate so just leave everything in the f***ing oven/saucepan and wait. Now, as soon as he walks in the door there’s going to be this awful tension and you’re gearing yourself up (to) fall asleep back to back and dream of sadness.

Help yourself to more at cook suck.