Thursday, March 20, 2014

Advertising, Creating False Memories, and Rhythmic Language

Did you know that advertising can create false memories?  False memories have gotten mostly a lot of bad press from their association with accusations of child abuse. More, false memories are seen as some sort of "defect." However, the fact of the matter is that false memories are not a defect; rather, false memories are an artifact of how our memories work. And, as the article notes, the smarter you are, the more likely you are to have false memories.

We often mistakenly think of memories as video recorders, recording everything exactly. In fact, when we remember things, we are putting things together from fragments -- and sometimes our brains "grab" something close by, that is perhaps associated with another, similar memory. Thus, we misremember what happened when. This is a false memory.

In the context of advertisement, one can place one's own product into the memory of viewers by exploiting how false memories are created through association.

How many times have you been outside in the summer, in the heat, feeling refreshed by a drink. Do you remember what drink that was, exactly? Probably not. Now let me show you an advertisement of people outside in the summer holding a nice, cold beer. Do you remember that it was beer, now? If you are a beer drinker, probably. Make that beer a specific brand, and that brand will be put into the memory. And the next time you plan to get some drinks because you're going to be outside... well, the odds those drinks will be beer -- and, specifically, your brand -- has increased somewhat.

A slight increase in the chance that someone will buy your brand of a particular product multiplied by millions of viewers equals an increase in sales.

But are there ways to increase those odds a bit more? Yes. Rhythms and rhymes -- songs and poetry -- help people remember even better. Rhythms act as a carrier wave -- much like radio waves -- that carries information more efficiently into the brain. The brain is itself rhythmic, and can sync with the rhythms of your song or jingle. If you can get your product into the audience's heads more easily, you can rely on their memories to do the rest and associate your particular brand with memories involving those kinds of products.

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