Radmila from My2SecondShelfLife mentioned to me that Americans are always freaked out when they see black squirrels while visiting Canada. Count me in with the other Americans because I had no idea that squirrels came in any color other than gray. I guess it is one of those weird Canadian things like Mounties, saying “Eh” at the end of a sentence, and Bryan Adams. You can go to scary squirrel world for more info.
This quiz was tricky. It gives you a country name and you have to point it out on a map of Europe. My score was 62 out of 111. In my defense, eastern Europe is difficult because it changes too often. That’s my story and I am sticking with it. I am curious to what Europeans are scoring on this quiz.
While googling “undercover advertising” I came across this site. I had almost forgotten about this story.
On September 12, 1957, a market researcher named James M. Vicary called a press conference to announce the formation of the a new corporation, the Subliminal Projection Company, formed to exploit what Vicary called a major breakthrough in advertising: subliminal stimuli. Vicary described the results of a six-week test conducted in a New Jersey movie theater, in which a high speed projector was used to flash the slogans “drink Coke” and “eat popcorn” over the film for 1/3,000 of a second at five-second intervals. According to Vicary, popcorn sales went up 57.5 percent over the six weeks; Cokes sales were up 18.1 percent.
Vicary’s announcement immediately touched something like a national hysteria. Outraged editorials appeared in major magazines and newspapers; outraged congressmen drafted laws and made themselves available for outraged interviews. This was the year of Vance Packard’s best-selling expose of the advertising industry, The Hidden Persuaders, and the public was apparently willing to believe anything about Madison Avenue–1984 was just around the corner.
Overlooked in all the hullaballoo were Vicary’s own relatively modest claims for his invention. It was useful only as a reminder, he said, and couldn’t persuade anyone to do what they didn’t want to do in the first place. But even he was probably overstating the case. While Vicary steadfastly refused to release any of his data (or even the location of the theater where the tests were conducted), psychologists who had performed similar experiments gleefully contradicted his results. A weak stimulus, they said, produced a weak impression; the subliminal “message” was no more hypnotic than a slogan on a billboard glimpsed out of the corner of the eye.
Here is another reason not to talk to strangers. They might actually be paid by companies to push their products.
Undercover marketing is a subset of guerrilla marketing where the consumer doesn’t realize they’re being marketed to. For example, a marketing company might pay an actor or socially adept person to use a certain product visibly and convincingly in locations where target consumers congregate. While there, the actor will also talk up their product to people they befriend in that location, even handing out samples if it is economically feasible. The actor will often be able to sell consumers on their product without those consumers even noticing it.
60 Minutes had a piece about Undercover Marketing last week. It seems that product placement in movies and television shows aren’t working as well as they would like. This has to be risky business for companies to cross this line. Won’t there be consequences from people who have found out that they were manipulated by undercover marketers?