Have you ever purchased something and hated it? And yet, for some reason, you gradually …
… started to love it?
Or have you seen a movie that thrilled you, only to find that your opinion suddenly sours?
If so, then it could be that …
Someone Is Seriously Messing With Your Memory!
And there’s bad news. The people involved in changing how you feel about products and media you’ve consumed hold more than one weapon of memory destruction.
Let’s look at just one of the ways advertisers manipulate your memory. But please understand that I am in no way talking about subliminal advertising. The tools we’ll explore rely solely on images and procedures that rehearse, train and retrain how you think by accessing your memory in particular ways.
One tool, for example, involves …
Blatant And Phoney Misinformation About The Competitors
Do you remember the Pepsi Taste Challenge? How thinly they disguised the fact that they were testing Coca Cola with the poor citizens they ambushed on the streets with Coca-Cola? How Pepsi used to call Coke, “the leading cola?”
By representing their main competitor in these challenges by association, Pepsi was capitalizing on the fact that human memory is constructed. Our memories don’t come from one location in the brain, but several.
This means that as our memories come to the fore, they can be changed by the catalyst responsible for summoning them. And because the advertisements make use of nostalgic images, rousing music and cleverly placed sound effects that also invoke nostalgia (the sound of a soda can being cracked open or bubbling pop snapping against ice), they create feelings.
These feelings cause your brain to associate positive experiences with the product and negative feelings with the competition.
Because as this documentary reveals, it’s not about selling a product. It’s about selling an idea:
At least, that’s the theory. Scientists and marketers call this effect “memory blending.” At its highest level, the injection of blended memories into your mind makes you think that you’re the one who formed your preferences.
And if advertising can change how you feel about something you’ve purchased in the past, you can be led to buy more and …
… Think It Was Your Idea!
Soda companies aren’t the only ones to use product comparison and misinformation to create blended memories. Many companies do, including airlines, stereo and speaker manufacturers and fashion designers.
The craziest part of all is that in so many cases, the difference between the products is marginal to none. If information is to be perceived by consumers …
It Must Be Done By Advertising
And because what matters most in these advertisement campaigns rely on how we feel about past experiences, advertisers constantly make references to childhood experiences. Playing with toys, camping in the woods, munching on cereal. You might see a mother with a child, a doctor with a patient or athletes with their trainers.
Or the ads may feature running on the beach, playing tennis or eating in a restaurant. These iconic, universal cues apply to almost everyone living in the West. Even when traveling in countries like Egypt, I have seen ads nearly indistinguishable from those we see in North America and England.
Two Routes To Radical Memory Change
Let’s look deeper at how all of this memory change works.
As we’ve already discussed with the Pepsi Taste Challenge example, the ads work at altering your subjective experiences if the past.
Secondly, the ads change how you think about an objective experience from your past.
Many ads, especially the Pepsi challenge, blend the two together.
To take another example, let’s look at an interesting experiment conducted by Kathryn Brown and reported upon in 1997.
In the experiment —- demonstrated that consumers will take second-hand information and use it to reconstruct memories of past experiences. They will do this completely outside of conscious experience.
Here are the basics of the experiment:
2o female and 30 undergrads at a university in Iowa were shown the trailer for a Johnny Depp movie called Nick of Time.
The researcher chose this movie because:
1. The plot and marketing were shaped to appeal to Generation X.
2. The movie had not been released in Iowa, reducing the likelihood that students were aware of it.
After viewing the film, the researcher asked the students to give their opinion of the film. They were asked to rate the trailer on traits such as acting, directing, pacing, etc. Brown also asked the participants if they would like to see the film in the future.
The researcher then thanked the participants for their time after a twenty minute period given for watching and rating the film. For all intents and purposes, the participants thought the experiment was over.
Next, however, the students were given reviews of the film to read. Although the reviews were professionally written, students were not given the names of the reviewers or the names of the newspapers or magazines from which the reviews were taken. Students, for example, might have a positive association with Rolling Stone magazine that could influence the experiment.
The reviews given to the students were either thumbs-up with 5 stars or thumbs-down with 0 stars.
After reading the reviews, the students were given a surprise memory test. The test asked them to reevaluate the movie trailer and then talk about how much they felt the reviews affected them. Although it was an option to say that they couldn’t remember their previous evaluation, less than a measurable percentage took this option.
As a result, students who received the positive reviews shifted to more positive evaluations the second time around. Likewise, students who received the negative reviews downgraded their opinion of the film.
Overall, when questioned, most participants believed:
1. That they had been consistent with their original evaluation.
2. Their original evaluation had not been affected by the second-hand information.
The results of the experiment suggest one thing:
Your Memory Of Opinions You Once Held Can Be Eradicated!
Not only that, but in addition to changing your thoughts about past opinion, your future choices can be altered too. Those who said they would like to see the film based on the trailer but were given negative reviews tended to change their mind.
And we’ve probably all had this experience. I remember being very excited to see Jupiter Rising after watching the trailer at the Sony Center Cinema in Berlin. But the reviews completely decimated that desire and to this day, I’ll never really know whether I might have liked the movie or not until I maybe one day watch it.
All this said, there’s one big fat white elephant in the room …
Is This Experiment Valid?
It seems so, but we need to question:
* The likelihood that they would not have seen the trailer on a national TV station. They do not appear to have been quizzed about their television viewing habits.
* They were university students, so we can assume that at least some of them came from another state. We do not know when they might last have traveled to another state.
* When people can’t properly remember their previous opinions, how can we trust them to remember whether or not they’ve seen a movie trailer before, let alone the entire movie?
Nonetheless, as worthy as these considerations are, I don’t think these problems affect the experiment too deeply.
But everything we learned about today does raise one very important question …
Is Selling Evil?
One of the world’s most successful marketing “gurus,” Dan Kennedy, often says that people selling products need to come to grips with one essential fact:
Marketing is always manipulation.
However, the extent to which manipulation to buy through the use of product comparisons, nostalgia and reviews is unethical or even insidious has much more to do with the product than the marketing.
Joe Polish sums it up best when he said in a video that …
And so if the product is crap – and let’s face it, soda pop does rot your body – then the marketing of the product may well seem to be evil.
But if the product is awesome and makes your life better, than you may have had that experience of saying, “I’m glad I saw that ad.” And in fact, here at the Magnetic Memory Method Headquarters in Berlin, hardly a day goes past when I don’t get an email that starts something like, “thank god I found you.”
So even if the quality of products may differ, the tools of effective marketing – the written ads, radio jingles and video presentations that get you itching to buy …
These Tools Of Unabashed Manipulation Are Exactly The Same!
And so at the end of the day, you’re truly on your own. You can do nothing more than decide for yourself.
And that’s why guarantees are so essential in today’s world. Whether it’s Amazon’s 7-day return policy or the Magnetic Memory Method 1-year guarantee, not trying items is that interest you is relatively risk-free in today’s world. Just don’t be a jerk and ask for a refund when you’ve used a product and gotten value from it.
In the words of the Fonz and one of my favorite marketing mentors (Frank Kern) …
And if you’d like to grab my four free video series and Memory Improvement Kit, then you’re more than willing to do that. I promise, I’ll improve your memory, not bend it. 😉
And once you’ve done that, I guarantee that between now and the next time we meet, it will be easy-peasy for you to keep your memory 100% Magnetic.