David Penn

Opinion
10 November 2020 It is now generally in vogue to agree that much of the polling in the US general election was ‘wrong’, but Conquest’s David Penn asks what we mean by wrong: the results or our ability to understand them?
Opinion
20 July 2020 David Penn dives into the role of emotion in building and sustaining brands in a world that believes itself all too rational.
Opinion
13 November 2019 New thinking seems to challenge the ‘classic’ marketing view of emotion. David Penn reviews the evidence and suggests a way forward – as well as explaining why Tahitians are never “sad”.
Opinion
23 August 2019 Behavioural economics is seeing something of a vogue, but how useful is the discipline in the long term? David Penn questions the effectiveness of the decision-shapers.
Opinion
11 February 2019 With Brexit day looming ominously, David Penn of Conquest muses on how the emotional marketing of brands has leached into politics.
Opinion
21 May 2017 Appeals to identity have worked to bring about significant change in the political mood, but why did it work to such a degree? David Penn, of Conquest UK, asks whether marketers are thinking about the psychological overlap that allows people to identify with a cause.
Opinion
06 March 2017 Over a century ago, William James argued that the self includes many things outside of one's self, including social relationships and material things.  More recently, cognitive science has shown that we do indeed subsume the personality and values of the people we feel close to.  The result is self-other overlap, whereby the mental representations of our own identity begin to merge with our perceptions of someone else.
Opinion
05 December 2016 Brand owners are in danger of being confused by an either/or approach to understanding their brands. Some put all their faith in emotional appeal, others in rational persuasion. But increasingly brand owners realise that they need to understand both. Research currently is not serving them well because rational and emotional/implicit are often looked at in isolation, with clients left in doubt as to the relative importance of each, and what they should do about it.
Opinion
18 July 2016 "Avoid politics and religion" is normally good advice when talking to clients or colleagues, but in the fall-out from the EU referendum, I feel impelled to break that rule. Yet, despite a rash of resignations and three party leadership contests, it's not the political effect that most interests me; it's actually the impact on our culture and values.
Opinion
14 June 2016 Does implicit research predict customer behaviour better than conventional (rational) research? Often it does, but this is probably asking the wrong question. Because brands work at both a System 1 (emotional/implicit) level and a System 2 (rational) level, no brand can be fully explained by emotion alone.
Opinion
16 March 2016 For some years now, marketers have grappled with the challenge of how to explain 'brand love' – that intangible sense of attachment that makes Coke 'taste better' than Pepsi and may even lead us to overlook a product's shortcomings (think Apple). The 'roots' of brand love have generally been sought in the irrational, in emotions, yet this creates circularity: we love brands that create emotion; emotion creates loved brands, and so on…
Opinion
01 October 2015 I recently read The Evolution of Everything: How Ideas Emerge, by Matt Ridley, and was struck by the following passage:
Opinion
11 May 2015 The UK polling industry is currently tearing itself apart over its failure to predict last week’s general election result. Basically, the (mainly online) polls showed both main parties – the Conservatives, led by David Cameron and Labour, led by Ed Miliband – polling at around 34%, yet it was Cameron who won by a margin (37% to 31%) too great to be explained by statistical error. There have already been plenty of theories advanced, including differential turnout figures, and ‘late swings’ (a convenient myth in my view). Instead I want to focus on an issue that has been a hot topic in the commercial MR world for at least a decade now: Are we asking the right questions?
Opinion
23 April 2015 Are the traditional tools of market research – surveys with explicit, direct questions – still up to the job of measuring brands in the new era? The explosion of new understanding about how the mind works could not have been foreseen by the founders of market research, back in the 50s, but modern practitioners have less excuse for still using more or less the same approaches. Traditional (System 2) methods still dominate: researchers still ask direct questions (and people still answer them), but any marketer or MR professional with even a smattering of knowledge of recent developments in mind science would surely ask: Is that all there is?
Opinion
05 March 2015 One of the most powerful insights from cognitive science is the System 1/System 2 dichotomy, coined by Stanovich and West as shorthand for two types of thinking - one fast, resource-efficient and automatic (System 1); the other slow, deliberative and effortful (System 2) . Many in marketing and MR now accept that, because consumer decision making is dominated by System 1, many of our buying decisions are fast, flawed and emotional, rather than slow, logical and consistent. So far so good, but I’m worried that a sheep-like acceptance that System 1 is somehow  ‘good’ for marketing, whereas System 2 is  ‘bad’ might lead us  into some ‘woolly’ thinking about how to measure consumer response.  
Opinion
02 September 2014 Back in the day, market research seemed to have all the answers about brands. Indeed, the scientific apparatus of quantitative research - segmentation, clustering, modelling etc. - seemed so sophisticated compared with its slightly prosaic subject matter: soap, toothpaste, biscuits and the like. Yet now the reverse seems true: brands are so central to our culture and so deeply rooted in our psyche that it is the traditional tools of measurement which seem unequal to the task. Why?
Opinion
24 March 2014 Last week, I presented a paper at the MRS annual conference with our client, Heinz, entitled ‘Why Heinz knows the Truth is Implicit’. It discussed how we had employed two implicit techniques –based on metaphors and reaction-time – to uncover associations (with a piece of advertising) which conventional explicit techniques could not.
Opinion
29 October 2013 It seems that implicit is the new black – everybody’s talking about it, at least in the small but feverish world of advertising research. But is it a new idea and how useful is it anyway?
Opinion
20 June 2013 Increasingly, marketers are coming to recognise the importance of the implicit mind. It’s where the vast majority of our 'thinking' about brands takes place - way below the level of our conscious awareness (explicit mind) - and comprises our emotions as well as all manner of automatic processes and mental shortcuts, such as heuristics. But how to reach it? Should we be looking to the costly and sometimes invasive methods of neuromarketing (particularly fMRI and EEG) or are there other indirect approaches that might yield more meaningful results?
Opinion
04 March 2013 The success of Beppe Grillo in the recent Italian election has got me thinking. Why does the (social) genie leave the bottle? What is it that transforms an incoherent protest movement into an almost unstoppable viral idea that spreads and multiplies? And could it happen here, or elsewhere?
Opinion
11 February 2013 Are you going to the ARF conference in New York this year? If you are and you attend any of the (paid for) 'company presentations' you may well hear a pitch along the following lines: "More has been learned about the brain in the last 10 years than in the previous thousand. Neuroscience proves that our brains are in control of our behaviour and that asking people questions mislead us about our true nature. That's why we, at XYZ Research Inc., have pioneered BrainZap™ – a unique technique for finding out what your customers think, BEFORE THEY EVEN THINK IT."
Opinion
14 December 2012 We all know that virality is the advertisers' Holy Grail, as marketers look for new ways to subvert the constraints of the traditional media model – because getting your idea across for nothing is always nice!
Opinion
12 April 2012 How emotionally intelligent is the marketing and MR community? I recently ran a workshop on Why Emotions Matter with a large group of UK clients. One of their tasks was to come up with an elevator speech that would convince a sceptical CEO (say, Lord Sugar of Apprentice fame) of the benefits of researching emotional response to his brand or advertising. Whilst the task was accepted enthusiastically by all, when it came to the crunch no one volunteered to deliver the speech. What became clear was that few felt they had the ammunition to (metaphorically) gun down an aggressive or powerful sceptic. One (not particularly shy) lady even suggested that she wouldn't get in the elevator at all! It seems then that the case for emotion still has yet to be made and won conclusively.
Opinion
31 October 2011 At a recent Warc advertising research conference a speaker remarked that the best outcome for your brand is that it is chosen without conscious thought. The more I examine this, the more curious a conclusion it appears. Why is it assumed that unconscious processing is better than the conscious variety?
Opinion
02 August 2011 Marketers and advertisers love to talk about synergies, and the essence of most good integrated campaigns has always been a single powerful idea that goes across different media - producing a campaign effect that's more than the sum of its parts. Thus a lot of synergy is about the simple reinforcement of an idea through its presence in many media, building reach and frequency. But great campaigns can do much more than that – particularly if they create a social effect whereby the audience themselves become an additional means (medium) by which the message is spread. What we all hope for is that the idea be received so rapturously by its audience that they share it with connected individuals (via conversations and social media) giving the idea an extra dimension and a social resonance.