Every year or so, some fuzzy-thinking critic reads an article about neuromarketing, becomes extremely agitated, and tries to raise the alarm about marketers turning consumers into mind-controlled zombies. The latest push of the neuro-panic button began with an article on a site called Truthout (fresh out of truth, perhaps?). Truthout seems to be a sort of conspiracy theory haven that seeks to use “the ever-expanding power of the Internet… to spread reliable information, peaceful thought and progressive ideas throughout the world.” Here’s their take on neuromarketing:
Guard your reptilian brain. Corporations and politicians are trying to tap into it to use the latest brain research and sales techniques to influence your buying and voting patterns…
Using a form of marketing known as neuromarketing, corporations and politicians are using MRIs, EEGs, and other brain-scan and medical technology to craft irresistible media messages designed to shift buying habits, political beliefs and voting patterns… [From "Spellcasters": The Hunt for the "Buy-Button" in Your Brain.]
I’ve talked about the impossibility of creating “super-ads” in the past. If it was possible to create a 30 second TV spot that would turn consumers into mindless drones, that feat would have been accomplished long ago. Neuromarketing studies may help tweak the appeal of some ads, and perhaps eliminate some totally ineffective ads, but simply aren’t going to turn ads into mind control devices.
The Truthout rant is authored by “World Business Academy” who also posted this anti-advertising video on their own site:
I was disappointed that the video didn’t work in my favorite descriptor, “Orwellian,” until the two minute mark. The video also proclaims neuromarketing to be unethical (and creepy, too!) without explaining the logic for this determination. Personally, I think marketers squandering shareholder money and viewer attention on ads that are disliked or ineffective is, if not unethical, just plain wasteful.
If the video pushes the right buttons in YOUR brain and convinces you that neuromarketing is evil, they have a petition you can sign, too.