Point of view: Brand-washed

Byron Sharp
Ehrenberg-Bass Institute

Currently, there is great interest in subconscious decision-making, as there should be, because buying rarely involves much conscious deliberation. Unfortunately, along with this interest in 'fast buying' and 'low attention' has come the silly notion of strong psychological effects.

A year ago, we all learnt that the research on subliminal advertising was faked, and that such effects are trivial at best; yet today I hear people making claims that sound an awful lot like the old myth of strong subliminal effects.

Unfortunately, many marketers find themselves in the frustrating position where advertising is one of the few things they can control, so being told that advertising can work hidden magic on consumers is attractive. Consequently, there are plenty of people pitching to marketers 'I'm the best advertising witch-doctor, my magic is stronger – hire me'.