Junk food marketers rediscover the Crockus

The following is from a recent New York Times article on how snack food company Frito-Lay have based their latest women-focused campaign on ‘neuromarketing’. Parts of the article nearly made with weep with despair.

[Advertising agency] Juniper Park used neuromarketing in a slightly different way. Ms. Nykoliation began by researching how women’s brains compared with men’s, so the firm could adjust the marketing accordingly. Her research suggested that the communication center in women’s brains was more developed, leading her to infer that women could process ads with more complexity and more pieces of information.

Hang on a minute. Communication centre larger in women? She doesn’t mean… the crockus by any chance?

A memory and emotional center, the hippocampus, was proportionally larger in women, so Ms. Nykoliation concluded that women would look for characters they could empathize with.

Stop sniffing the TipEx.

And research Ms. Nykoliation read linked the anterior cingulate cortex, which processes decision-making and was larger in women, to feelings of guilt. (Experts differ on how directly functions or feelings are associated with various parts of the brain.) Ms. Nykoliation then asked NeuroFocus to review her assumptions and, as Juniper Park developed ads, to test the ads to verify that women liked them.

We should have guessed a ‘neuromarketing’ company would be involved.

Neuromarketing is an interesting research field looking at the neuroscience of buyer decisions but so far there is not a single scrap of data that shows neuroscience can better predict buyer decisions that plain old ‘marketing’.

In other words, if you’re wanting to actually market a product, it’s a huge waste of money. However, that hasn’t stopped various ‘neuromarketing’ companies from springing up and selling their sweet nothings to large corporations for hard cash.

I say a huge waste of money, but it did get them a feature in The New York Times who also posted their commercial online, so maybe it’s not such a daft move after all.

Link to NYT article.

2 Comments

  1. Posted March 2, 2009 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    I much prefer it being garbage science than actually having a scientific basis to manipulate the brain with advertising (any more than already).

  2. Enterhase
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 4:15 am | Permalink

    Neuromarketing companies may not know squat about marketing other companies, but they sure as hell know how to market themselves!


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