Formula Toothcare: Imagery portraying strength

I have a consumer psychology exam this Wednesday, and we were given an advert to analyze as practice. Since we live in the world of information abundance, nothing more is scared. Therefore, I have chosen to share my practice answer. And constructive critiques are warmly welcomed.

Formula Toothcare, Ogilvy & Mather (2006).

Formula Toothcare, Ogilvy & Mather (2006).

This advert plays with the representation of strength through a puzzling illusion that captures attention and is thought provoking. The advertisement is trying to build upon the representations of strength in the viewers mind. The intent is that they will consider the worth and implications of healthy teeth. The image and feelings associated with the strength used to rip apart the metal frame become part of the brands mental representation. It has a semantic meaning which it is hoped will create a more durable memory trace for the brand and product.

Considering the way in which strength is portrayed, the advert is targeted at a young to middle aged male audience. The surprising novelty of the advert will capture attention through its interesting and entertaining form. It will draw its audience to fixate on it, as they try to figure out what the illusion is and how it works.

In considering strength, the peripheral mental processes will be trying to frame the consumer’s opinion against ideals and intentions. They will be mindful of the costs of bad teeth, both financial and social. They may feel that with bad teeth they violate norms and fail to meet up to ideals. All these thoughts should shape their intentions to buy a relatively cheap tube of toothpaste, which will yield the dividends of social acceptance and reduced dental bills.

It is important, however, to be aware that the brand name doesn’t diffuse the same image as the poster content. This will likely weaken the memory trace to the brand and hinder recollection. Another weakness is that people seeing it (this happened with me for sure) is that they may get side-tracked picking apart how the illusion was constructed. This may evoke semantic elaboration and a durable memory, however not for the product or cause of improved dental hygiene.

Improved congruence between the brands word and image representations would make for better future recognition and recall. However, the illusion portraying super strong teeth is thought provoking. If the consumer is not distracted by the sundry matters of the bill board’s construction, they will be nudged to evaluate their behaviour against ideals and potential negative consequences. If the brand identity was more related to the imagery of strength, then better connections would be made in the consumers memory relative to the semantics of the product, even if this processing only takes place in the periphery of the consumers mind.

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Russia Today: Question More

This week I am commenting on a TV advert produced for the American audience of Russia Today. For those of you who don’t know Russia Today, they are an international news agency whose slogan ‘Question More’ is thoroughly congruent with their critical thinking alternative to western mainstream media. As their title suggests, they originate from Russia.

We know that emotion has a lot greater leverage in the heat of the moment to affect behaviour. Last week I described how media outlets and the press capitalise on peoples’ prejudices to activate this emotion and to get them to think any way but rationally. In terms of emotion this ad certainly carries some, however it’s unique portrayal perhaps reverses the ‘emotions rule’ rule.

What I mean by this is that this ad serves to educate. Considering the dichotomy between emotionally driven behaviour and rational thinking, this ad presents a rationale. The news reporter from RT explains the conflict of interest between mass media and politicians. Clips of laughter are then congruent with the statements that the ‘joke is on you’, and that the news is not actually that funny.

The video evidence of politicians and recognisable American news reporter laughing overtly brings a surreal evidence that what is being said may even be maliciously true. It is provocative set of statements, for which the independent nature of Russia Today is then presented as a solution.

Russia Today becomes a solution to the need for a more critical approach to the news. It is also presented in an ‘alternative’ style, which many viewers who feel they are being lied to, or that their voice is not heard will relate to. All of this creates an attraction and a deeper need for Russia Today.

Finally, I really like Russia Today’s tag line: ‘Question More’. This is in line with the scientific method that undoubtedly many have come across at some point in their education. It refers to the concept that knowledge and understanding are advanced through questioning and maybe even ‘whistle blowing’, and it implies that Russia Today is a news agency that thinks differently to the status quo.

This is a thought-provoking ad, which stirs emotions to amplify the need for a more transparent and critically thinking news agency. The ad seems almost unnecessary, given that it will only ever be aired on RT’s own channel, but it is a useful tool to retain viewers and strengthen their perception of why they should watch Russia Today.

Social Media in the Workplace

networkI have spent a lot of time studying the use of social media in relation to education, and I have concluded that it is very useful. Evidence suggests that crowd sourced projects (such as Wikipedia) actually work, and contain a lot of depth in their articles. The manor of empowering individuals to connect with experts and peers, to share and to discuss, leads learners to enter the flow experience and benefit from intrinsic motivation.

But where does that fit in with employers? Surely it would be a significant turn off to a recruiter when Jimmy the graduate enters and starts lobbying colleagues to use twitter, or to blog on a public forum about day to day operations? It might be fair to say that while academic can benefit from tearing down walls, an element of business success surely comes from keeping them up.

An article by Rachel Happe (2013) provides a good synopsis of the ‘what’ social media can do. And it needs to be noted that social media is merely the vehicle through which it is delivered. Too many people have seen the ‘like us on Facebook’ ads on the back of the breakfast cereal box, or have seen someone on Facebook repost some meme and equated that with social media’s benefits. But the real benefit (and this is why SM is only the vehicle) is in the human relationships that it quickens.

Building relationships is the essence of a dynamic organisation. Experiential learning is essential, but cannot be transmitted via lecture or writ. What you need is the person. Not only do you need the person, but the person needs to be empowered to share. Now think about the reasons they might not share? They might be dissatisfied with their job, they might have fear of becoming dispensable, or they might feel animosity to the person needing the information. Trust and unity are the principles behind the networked organisation for which SM is the vehicle. As I said before, the university benefits from taking down its walls to the wider world. The business could benefit from at least taking down walls within.

Empower the employees to make their own connections. Let them have fun and communicate over their areas of expertise. Regardless of the medium used (email often still suffices) it is the intrinsically motivated and connected workers who have the flexibility and connections that let the organisation solve problems dynamically – in a whole new way.

I don’t even think this is a surprise for a lot of businesses. People have been talking about networking for years. But often it is still an uneasy topic to approach. Still, for motivation and new solutions let these principles be born in mind. The work in education, and according to Harold Jarche (2013), learning is the work!