Monday, July 20, 2009

Smiling Girls on Advertisements

Pick up any magazine. I am sure you will come across an a picture of a beautiful woman on an advertisement that has no relation whatsoever with the content of the advertisement, I have come across advertisements of a UPS showing a beautiful girl smiling away to glory. Who buys a diesel generator because of a girl? And who pays these marketing executives for coming up with such trash?

Just read this.

[I]n South Africa ... a consumer lending bank wanted to push personal loans to fifty thousand of its customers. Working together with a team of economists, the bank crafted several variations on the same basic loan offer letter. The different versions were randomly assigned to recipients and mailed off without any indication that the letters were part of an experiment.

The letters included different interest rates (ranging from 3.25% to 7.75% per month); some featured a comparison to a competitor's rate; others a giveaway ([Win one of] TEN CELL PHONES UP FOR GRABS EACH MONTH!); and still others a photo of either a man's or a woman's pleasant, smiling face.

Now you'd think that the customer would evaluate the offer based purely on interest rate and the specific terms of the loan. Marketing gimmicks such as competitor comparisons, giveaway offers, and fanciful photos shouldn't be part of the calculation. [The results showed that most of these gimmicks] didn't have much of an overall effect. The unexpected effect kicked in with the less relevant variation: the inclusion of a picture of the smiling face in the corner. ... According to the study, the magnitude of [the men receiving pictures of a smiling woman] is "about as much as dropping the interest rate 4.5 percent points."

Well, well, well!
How many of your purchasing decisions are made because of the smiling man or woman in the advertisement?

The above extract is from a wonderful book called Sway: The Irresistible Pull Of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman.

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IndianPundit said...

Thats interesting.
Though everyone love to see smiling girls, i never thought that anyone could buy stuff because of them on the cover.

Anyways, how many books do u read in a month?????

Sanoop said...

I think the first objective of an ad is to attract attention. This would maximise the chances of getting customers. Take for example, the Times of India, while I do agree that they do carry the required news content, I personally know quite a few who treat the supplement edition (Bangalore Times in my state) as the main edition and vice versa. Every day there is a model featured on the front page and the last page has international cine celebs in their own standard attire. Add to it a few saucy topics and eye catching headlines and there u have it.. a 6 digit number of readers added to the tally. I also know people who do not subscribe to TOI cos the raunchy content spoilt their "little" teenage children !!!. It would be really interesting if the TOI editors took a big gamble/risk to remove the 'sauciness' from their newspaper for a month just to check how many people dropped out or were added to their reader list. Only for the purpose of research, would they oblige to this proposal just to add a chapter in Marketing Techniques.

And to IndianPundit's query about Amm's book reading habit.. even I have observed this and wanted to ask... Do u read one book at a time or do u have time/day slots for 7 books in each week ????

Amitabh Mukherjee said...

Attracting attention is understood. But as rational animals we pride ourselves to take rational decisions. We are supposed to carefully weigh the pros and cons. But of late I am reading books that prove beyond doubt that we are pretty much irrational and swayed by a lot by factors that are normally not associated with decision making.

I try to finish 2 books per week. The secret is to read books that are not more than 250 pages thick.

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