Doritos, brand recall, and learning science retrieval

Does this mean that: Retrieval of brand name = Better learning of the brand = More likely to buy the brand?

The new Doritos anti-ad (#LogoGoesHere) campaign features everything surrounding the brand, but never shows or says the brand name. They show the red and blue bags, talk about the flavor and what the chip looks like, etc. but never say the name.

Per Ad Age, “Doritos is the latest brand to acknowledge audience distaste for overt advertising with its latest strategy—it’s dropping its logo from its new campaign.”

Maybe.

Or maybe they hired some learning scientists.

Brand Recall

In marketing, when we talk about brand recall, we’re usually referring to a consumer recalling (unaided by the logo, etc.) the brand name. Examples:

  • “Can you get us some chips for the party?” “What kind?” “Uh, how about some tortilla chips and some Doritos.”
  • “You know, those triangle chips that have a nacho flavor.” “Doritos.
  • “Remember how we always got chips with our hamburgers at Mary’s house?” “Yep, whenever I have a hamburger now, I always want Doritos.”
  • “I need chips” (writes Doritos on shopping list).

The general idea is: If your brand is the one they recall, they are more likely to buy it.

But learning science takes it a step further.

Learning Science Retrieval

Retrieval is the process of calling up a memory, which can be a piece of information such as a brand name.

There are generally two types of retrieval

  1. Recognition – Where we “recognize” the information as familiar or the information that we were looking for.
  2. Recall – Unaided, we bring up the memory of the information.

As an example, on a test, a multiple-choice question is recognition

Question 1: Nicole’s last name is:

a) Finkel

b) Finbruner

c) Finkbeiner

d) Fink

(correct answer: c)

With recall, a retrieval question is usually a free form response. Example:

Question 1: What is Nicole’s last name?

(blank space where the user would manually write or type “Finkbeiner”)

Studies have shown that retrieval increases retention of the content (increased learning).

Putting it all together

The Doritos anti-ad (#LogoGoesHere) campaign could be considered a form of retrieval. Which leads to an interesting question:

If Brand recall = Higher sales

and

If retrieval = Increased learning

Does this mean that: Retrieval of brand name = Better learning of the brand = More likely to buy the brand?

Hopefully, Doritos or someone with money and time is studying this.  This could have interesting long-term impacts on marketing and advertising.

 

 

 

Pandora Tide ads, the new “Pizza Guy” advertising

The Tide ads on Pandora are annoying. Is this costing Pandora revenue?

If you’ve used Pandora music streaming anytime in the past few years, you’ve heard the Tide Laundry detergent ads. These are by far some of the most annoying commercials I’ve ever heard in my life.

And, they reminded me of a scene from a fun movie in the 1990’s, City Slickers and the “Pizza Guy” radio advertising scene.

[manager plays annoying Pizza Guy radio ad]

Mitch: “So?”

Manager: “So? So, it’s stupid. It’s annoying. It makes people change the station.”

Mitch: “I didn’t write it.”

Manager: “But you bought it, you put it on the air three times a night during drive time. People are having accidents.”

“It makes people change the station” is the key part of this scene. Advertising on a particular radio station is valued based on the number of people listening. In short:

Less people listening to your radio station = less you can charge for your ads = less revenue (since you have a limited window to run ads).

So the “Pizza Guy” annoying radio advertisement that makes people change the station means less revenue.

Pandora’s model is a little different, but not much. Listeners have a few options to cope with these ads:

  1. Turn-off Pandora
  2. Switch to another music streaming service such as Spotify or Apple Music
  3. Pay for a subscription to listen to Pandora ad-free
  4. Learn to ignore the ads

Only two of these are good for Pandora. And, like the City Slickers “Pizza Guy” advertisement, it’d be interesting to see if Pandora is losing enough listeners due to these ads that it will hurt their long-time revenue and sustainability of their company. My guess is these ads are doing damage.

It’s also interesting to look at this from Tide’s perspective. Do these annoying ads turn people off of their product? Or does it increase brand recall? Or is this a case of “any mention of our product is good” thinking? Perhaps people talking about it and blogging about it is just the thing they want.

 

Coors Light ad has more nods to women than just the “being done wearing a bra” part

A friend of mine recently co-founded the Alewives Podcast to celebrate “beer, history, beer history, and the women who make them” and that’s got me thinking a lot about beer marketing and advertising.

The Coors Light “The Official Beer of Being Done Wearing a Bra” advertisement above stands out, as many have commented, because it’s a far cry from the usual “beaches and bikinis” portrayal of women we often see in mass-produced beer advertising.

But while everyone is focused on the end, where she takes her bra off as a relaxing (and non-sexual) gesture, I noticed two things earlier in the advertisement that are also strong signals to women:

  • :06 mark: As she takes off her shoes, we see a bandaid. If you’re not familiar with the “heel bandaid” they are worn because the backs of some shoes rub on your actual heel and it causes pain and blisters. It’s very common with high heels and thus something many women can relate to. Side note: If you can relate to this, heel grips are a beautiful thing.
  • :03 mark: I could be wrong about this one since we don’t see a dog later in the ad, but the painting of the dog on the wall looks like it came from a “Paint Your Pet party” to me. These parties are where people bring their own food and drinks and take a class where they learn to paint. They tend to be especially popular with women.

And there are a couple of subtleties when she opens the fridge (:10 mark) that are worth noting:

  • There is a bottle of white wine that she reaches past to get to the Coors Light beer, subtly offering a contrast to the traditional expectations that women reach for wine to relax.
  • The fridge has fruit juice, salads, some sort of takeout, and an apple in it. While I’d argue fruit juice isn’t healthy, the foods we associate with health around the Coors Light cans in the fridge gives the beer an association effect of healthiness.

While I recognize there have been some criticisms of the ad, I think it’s a well thought out, well-executed advertisement by Coors Light and Leo Burnett.

How politicians, celebrities, and brands get you to “like” them

A paper sign on a lamp post that says "Be the first of your friends to like this post" below it has the facebook thumb's up icon so people can tear one off.
“Like This Post” by Bernard Goldbach is licensed under CC BY 2.0

During a recent online discussion, a colleague posed a question about the Persuasion Principle of Liking (Robert Cialdini). Most of the examples in literature are at an individual scale, meant for 1:1 interaction. He was interested in how this does or could scale.

For my contribution to the discussion, I decided to focus on politicians, celebrities, and brands and how they utilize the Principle of Liking to encourage the general public or their target markets to “like” them at scale.

Similarities

The first example of this that came to mind is how people will say “They talk like me,” or “They tell it like it is,” (which, in my opinion, actually means “this person has the same opinions as me”) about why they like particular politicians. If you’re curious about this and don’t mind a very dense read, I recommend The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt, as he breaks down the moral structures and topics (which then you could deuce wording and phrases) that appeal to different subsets of the public.

Another way I think brands, celebrities, and politicians foster similarity this is through origin stories. A brand for a protein bar will tell you the story of how it all started with an avid fitness person in their kitchen who wanted a better option than the ones currently on the market. Or a politician or celebrity will tell the story of their humble beginnings. An underrated example of this, in my opinion, is Jennifer Lopez’s “Jenny from the Block” song, which highlights her “regular” upbringing.

Brands also highlight similarity by featuring people who look like you in ads. When I was looking for a new car a few years ago, I was shocked that I subconsciously added the Cadillac brand to my online search, as I’ve always associated Cadillac with “my grandmother drove one of those.” But when I thought about it, I’d seen several Cadillac ads recently where they showed women who looked like me owning and driving them. While I’m yet to find proof, I’m also convinced Cadillac may have had a marketing agreement with Carrie Underwood to create her song “Two Black Cadillacs” to market to younger women.

Compliments

Politicians and performers on stage tend to give these compliments outright. I’ve come to dread the part of concerts where they shout “We love you New Orleans!” because I’m sure they say that in every city. And I wonder if it’s written somewhere where they can see it so they don’t say the wrong name, but I digress….

Politicians tend to say things like “Detroit, you are amazing. You’ve had a tough few years, but you are coming back because you all are incredible.” Arguably, the more the politician or celebrity genuinely believes this, the more genuine it’ll come across.

Brands are usually more subtle. The one that immediately comes to mind is the Dove campaign for real beauty ads. They are celebrating women’s bodies and saying “You are beautiful no matter your size, shape, stretch marks, etc.” Although it’s worth noting that their parent company also owns Axe body spray, which as a brand has a vastly different commentary on women and beauty.

Cooperation

I joke that you could channel-surf on TV by which commercials are on (Subway ads = Simpsons, Family Guy, or American Dad mostly). I think that’s especially true on Sunday mornings during the intellectual news and financial market commentary. The ads during these times are highly environmental and cooperative-focused. They tend to have a theme around, “We’re working with you to protect and sustain our environment” and are run by oil companies and the like.

While I could also argue it’s reciprocity, Chick-Fil-a’s marketing strategy of sponsoring a tremendous amount of community events, in my opinion, is a great example of, “We’re a part of this community cooperating with you to make it a better place” cooperation.

Ethics consideration

With scale, you cross an ethical line if you lead the person to believe there is a direct or personal connection when there isn’t. I get emails that have my name in the subject area and are addressed to me, but I realize that it’s a form letter. But if they sent an automated email that made me think a particular person (such as a politician or celebrity) themselves wrote to me when they didn’t and/or made me think the message was sent to just me when it wasn’t, I think that’s unethical. And, it risks ruining the relationship of the person discovers it.

Football fandom and the Association Principle

The association principle can manifest as associating with a sports team, especially a sports team that’s well-liked or performing well.

A referee voodoo doll with pins stuck in it. Next to the doll is a pin cushion with additional pins for patrons of the shop to stick in the doll.
A day after the January 20, 2019 NFL Conference Championship game where the New Orleans Saints lost to the Los Angeles Rams, I walked into a New Orleans craft store to find this referee voodoo doll prominently displayed. The store owner invited me to push another a pin into the doll. Many residents of New Orleans blame the game loss on a referee’s bad interception call.

A while ago, I was listening to a local radio station when a female caller asked a dating question. She’d been on a few dates with a guy and noticed that he is what is often referred to as a “super fan.” His apartment was covered in logos and memorabilia from a particular sports team. His clothing also was mostly for that team, down to the slippers he wore. And his vehicle was covered with stickers for the team.

Her problem? The rival team is her team.  Her question was whether he’d continue to date her when he found out.

But I think her question should have been, “Why does this guy so heavily associate with the team?”

Association Principle

The association principle is when two or more things that are not related are somehow connected in our minds to create a relation between them. For example, in Ivan Pavlov’s famous study where he rang a bell and the fed dogs, the dogs eventually connected the bell to food and began salivating when he rang the bell, even in the absence of food. They’d associated these two things with one another food + bell.

Association Principle and Advertising

Advertisers absolutely love the association principle because they can associate their product or service to another positive product or service to drive sales.

Examples:

  • Marlboro cigarettes + tough cowboy = Men who smoke Marlboro cigarettes are tough and rugged.
  • Corona + beaches = The drink you should drink at the beach or to feel like you’re at the beach is Corona.
  • Successful business person endorsement + book = Successful business people read this book. If you want to be successful, you should too.
  • Beautiful celebrity + skincare product = If you use this product, you’ll be like this celebrity.
  • National Basketball League (NBA) + Nike shoes = If you want to be in the NBA or play like NBA players, wear Nike shoes.

There’s also the fun world of negative advertising association, in which a competitor works to associate your brand with something undesirable.  For example, it’s rumored that a competitor to the Gucci brand sent Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi a Gucci handbag to make Gucci less desirable to luxury buyers.

Self-Esteem, Association Principle & Football

Yet another way of looking at the association principle is through the lens of social status and self-esteem. The belief is that if we surround ourselves with favorable people and things then that positivity will also be associated with us. One example is people with low self-esteem and low social status. In these cases, a person has a tendency to want to associate with someone or something of a higher or “winning” status.

And, as by now you’ve probably guessed, that can manifest as associating with a sports team, especially a sports team that’s well-liked or performing well. Think about some of the behaviors that sports fans exhibit:

  • Fans watching the game in a bar giving other fans “high-fives” when their football team scores a touchdown even though they didn’t physically complete the play themselves.
  • Someone becoming a “super fan” of a university football team even though they never attended that university.
  • University students saying “we won” when their university’s team wins and “they lost” when their university team loses. By doing so, they are associating themselves when the team does well by using “we” and distancing themselves when the team does poorly by using “they.” (Cialini et al. 1976)
  • A fan believing “their team” won’t win if the fan doesn’t wear a certain shirt or eat a certain food during the game.

While enjoying a sports game can be a fun hobby and someone with a favorite team doesn’t necessarily suffer from low self-esteem, it’s interesting to look at the most extreme examples of sports fandom and try to understand the potential motivation behind it.

You are not your target market

They probably aren’t listening to the same radio/Internet stations as you. You may be on a particular social media platform regularly, but that doesn’t mean they are. You might get your news from a particular outlet, they may get it entirely differently.

When time and resource pressures creep into the promotional and advertising planning process, it can be easy to decide that you know the target market well enough to decide the best strategy to take. In most cases, this includes making assumptions that they are just like you. But they probably aren’t. Even if you fit into the definition of your target market, you behave differently because you have a vested interest and inside knowledge.

Similarly, many people complain to their marketers, that they “never see their marketing.” But they forget that they aren’t the target market, which means if they are seeing the ads, the ads are most likely in the wrong places.

How to make your political opponent look bad in TV ads: A step-by-step guide

Since I’m guessing you loathe television political ads as much as I do, let’s turn it into a game; how many of the TV political ads that you see follow this formula?

A black and white old television set. On the screen are found young people gathered around a TV themselves
“not everything has a reason” by Robert Couse-Baker is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Since I’m guessing you loathe television political ads as much as I do, let’s turn it into a game; how many of the TV political ads that you see follow this formula?

(written with sarcasm, but really, see how many actually fit this)

Step 1: Obtain footage of your opponent, preferably with them alone. Bonus points if it shows them walking away from people.

Step 2: Change the footage of your opponent from color to black and white.

Step 3: Add daunting music, as similar to the Jaws movie theme without being obvious. Also, you don’t want to distract your audience by having them think “I really want to watch Jaws now, that movie is awesome.”

Step 4: Contrast the black and white footage you’ve just showed with testimonials from senior citizens, veterans, and working-class people talking about how that candidate just “isn’t right for us,” but your candidate is. Bonus points for each time one of them says “trust” with your candidate.

Step 5: Show video of your candidate walking into a room, waving, while a very large group stands and claps like they’ve each just won a million dollars. Make sure the music is upbeat and hopeful-sounding.

Step 6: Show your candidate having one-on-one conversations with senior citizens, veterans, and working-class people. Bonus points for small children, especially babies.

Step 7: Show your candidate looking directly into the camera, saying how much he or she will “work for you.”

Step 8: End with the obligatory stuff. “I’m x candidate and I approve this message” and “This ad was paid for by x committee that sounds like it has nothing to do with politics.”

And, cut.

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