If you're like most people, you're way too smart for advertising. You flip right past newspaper ads, never click on ads online and leave the room during TV commercials.
That, at least, is what we tell ourselves. But what we tell ourselves is hooey. Advertising works, which is why, even in hard economic times, Madison Avenue is a $34 billion–a–year business. And if Martin Lindstrom — author of the best seller Buyology and a marketing consultant for Fortune 500 companies, including PepsiCo and Disney — is correct, trying to tune this stuff out is about to get a whole lot harder.
Lindstrom is a practitioner of neuromarketing research, in which consumers are exposed to ads while hooked up to machines that monitor brain activity, pupil dilation, sweat responses and flickers in facial muscles, all of which are markers of emotion. According to his studies, 83% of all forms of advertising principally engage only one of our senses: sight. Hearing, however, can be just as powerful, though advertisers have taken only limited advantage of it. Historically, ads have relied on jingles and slogans to catch our ear, largely ignoring everyday sounds — a steak sizzling, a baby laughing and other noises our bodies can't help paying attention to. Weave this stuff into an ad campaign, and we may be powerless to resist it.
This is the really good part:
To figure out what most appeals to our ear, Lindstrom wired up his volunteers, then played them recordings of dozens of familiar sounds, from McDonald's ubiquitous "I'm Lovin' It" jingle to birds chirping and cigarettes being lit. The sound that blew the doors off all the rest — both in terms of interest and positive feelings — was a baby giggling. The other high-ranking sounds were less primal but still powerful. The hum of a vibrating cell phone was Lindstrom's second-place finisher. Others that followed were an ATM dispensing cash, a steak sizzling on a grill and a soda being popped and poured. [Emphasis added--E.M.]
Imagine that--we humans may be hardwired to pay attention to and cherish the sound of a happy baby above all other noises. Makes you think, doesn't it?
Of course, in addition to merely thinking about it, I start having ideas about ways to use this new knowledge. In particular, I think it would be pretty amazing to see this in pro-life advertising. Imagine smartly-made pro-life ads featuring shot after shot of laughing, happy babies--a montage of motherly bliss, so to speak. A simple tag-line screen at the end (still with the cute noises in the background) could read something like: Choose Laughter. Choose Love. Choose Life. I think that would get noticed, don't you?