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David Penn

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.
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.
"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.
Does implicit research predict customer behaviour better than conventional (rational) research? Often it does, but this is probably asking the wrong question.
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).
I recently read The Evolution of Everything: How Ideas Emerge, by Matt Ridley, and was struck by the following passage: "Evolution is far more common and far more influential than most people recognise.
The UK polling industry is currently tearing itself apart over its failure to predict last week’s general election result.
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.
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) .
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.
Last week, I presented a paper at the MRS annual conference with our client, Heinz, entitled ‘Why Heinz knows the Truth is Implicit’.
It seems that implicit is the new black – everybody’s talking about it, at least in the small but feverish world of advertising research.
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.
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? For Grillo’s success is a truly viral phenomenon - a political movement with no organisation and no HQ, led by a single charismatic individual who uses his blog as a rallying point for those who can’t make it to his town square rallies, and who communes with the faithful via social media.
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.
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! At its simplest, Virality is about sharing; it's about people sharing (talking about) an idea or object) which then becomes a social object.
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.
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.
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.
It comes as no surprise to me, in a year that saw the launch of iPhone 4G and iPad, that Apple has become the world's most powerful brand, It topped the annual top 100 global brand power list, BrandZ, moving up from third place in 2009, with an 84% increase in its estimated value to $153bn ending Google's four year run at the top of the global brand power list.
The near-demise politically of Nick Clegg, who little more than a year ago led his party, the Liberal Democrats, into a UK coalition goverment with the Conservatives, has got me thinking about how quickly buzz can dissipate and sentiment turn from positive to negative.  About 12 months ago, my company did a snap poll for ITN, the broadcaster, straight after the first ever televised UK party leaders’ debate.
For some, the day of the Royal Wedding will be The Biggest Day of the Year. I for one can hardly contain my excitement - and it’s nice to know I’m not alone.
We know buzz is the wildfire effect that transforms ideas into socially infectious phenomena that spread through populations with the speed of epidemics.
My company recently published a report* on social media usage amongst 16-24s in the UK. The most exciting finding was the sheer dominance of Facebook in the 16-24 social media space: the data telling a story of Facebook going from strength to strength whilst Bebo, and MySpace head into the social media desert – only 1% of users visiting Murdoch’s site on a daily basis and newcomer Foursquare was barely mentioned.
For an ex-PR man, David Cameron doesn't seem to know how to sell an idea. Indeed, journalists across the political spectrum seem united in their derision for his flagship policy: the 'big society'.