I’ve been traveling quite a bit recently (which explains the lower rate of Neuromarketing posts), and at a recent stay at a Jameson Inn in Indiana, I encountered the above product arrangement on the shelf of their little convenience shop next to the check-in desk. While most of the studies have looked at the effect of juxtaposing products, say, in a shopping cart, this is an unusual example of product contagion right on the shelf. (If you didn’t catch my previous post, “product contagion” refers to the demonstrated ability of a product likely to arouse disgust in a consumers mind to “contaminate” nearby products, as in a shopper’s cart. Put your cookies next to a bag of kitty litter and the cookies become less appealing.) I’ve got to wonder how Instant Lunch sales at this particular hotel compare to sales at other Jameson locations…

And that product positioning wasn’t the only neuromarketing gaffe I found during that stay. Clearly, the central office didn’t read Green Marketing Doesn’t Work (or Cialdini’s book Yes! ) when they wrote the copy for this card:

Actually, it’s hard to fault Jameson Inn on this one – virtually every hotel I’ve stayed in that has one of these cards, and all are variations on “Save The Planet.” I’ve yet to encounter one that used Cialdini’s results to improve their card with the implication that recycling one’s towels will conform to social norms (in addition to preserving the environment and saving the hotel a few cents).

On a more practical note, though, the card offers guests two options – throwing the towel on the floor to receive a freshly laundered one, and replacing it on the rack to recycle it. I’d guess that much of the time the maid servicing a room finds the towel in neither place, but rather on the sink, over the edge of the tub, etc. While I assume that the hotel has a policy on how to handle these nonconforming towels so carelessly placed by thoughtless guests who couldn’t follow instructions, one would think a simple, “to receive a new towel, please throw the used one on the floor” would add clarity and make recycling the default option.

So, put on your neuromarketing glasses and let me know what egregious neuro-blunders YOU can find!