NEW 3rd International Edition - Jan 2009

Max Sutherland's book is written for advertisers, agencies & consumers.

Used by students of marketing, advertising, journalism and mass communications.
Read a samplechapter

What's Unique?

Conclusions from tracking the effects of many hundreds of ad campaigns continuously, week by week, over a period of nearly 15 years in America, Asia, Australasia and Europe. Ad campaigns for companies like Gillette, Campbells Soup, McDonalds, AT&T, General Motors, Kodak, Shell and Qantas.

Draws on academic research into communication psychology and buyer behavior but reduces the 'fog index' to make the findings clearer and more actionable.

This is what readers say.

Dr. Max Sutherland is an independent marketing psychologist and consultant in the U.S.A. and Australia, a regular columnist for trade publications and Adjunct Professor of marketing at Bond University.

More... about the author.


Advertising Principles

Erik du Plessis

Nigel Hollis

Mind Hacks

Sex in Advertising (Tom Reichert)

TED Ideas worth spreading


Google Ads

Dr Max Sutherland

Monthly column

Receive Max Sutherland's column by email - free subscription


2007 archive

RSS Feed icon Receive new posting via RSS feed. Click the icon on the left to subscribe.
(Or right click the icon to copy and paste the link into your rss reader)

9th November, 2007 cross-hairs target

'Behavioral Targeting' : Consumers in the Cross-hairs

Search-engine queries and visits to websites generate a potential goldmine of market research information. It is used to aim ads at us with increasing pinpoint precision. Few people have any idea that they are being tracked, profiled and targeted in this way. The worry is not so much that it is happening as that it is happening in a near-vacuum of regulation. ...more

6th November, 2007

'Subliminal' ads for Toyota, Chupa Chups, KFC & Others.

I said in my May column that subliminal ads, like Energizer bunny, just keep going and showed links to a couple of on-air examples. This month during the television presentation of the Australian music industry awards (ARIAS), 'subliminal' flashes for the sponsors including Toyota, KFC and Chupa Chups occurred. Watch them here and check out the 'answers' given to the ABC program Media Watch when it investigated. (These were guaranteed to stir controversy and 'get attention'. Was that the real objective? What else could these people have been thinking?)

In a follow up interview, the Channel Ten Network denies that 1-4 frames per second is subliminal and used the defence that it was part of a method called "rapid cuts" commonly used in music presentations. Note that KFC 'has form' with using this sort of controversial advertising. Last year they told USA consumers that there was a hidden password in one of their TV ads. Discover the password and you win a free KFC sandwich. More KFC examples in the earlier column.  

29th September, 2007

Remote controlCurious But Real: Effects From Fast Forwarded Ads.

Latest evidence confirms that fast-forwarded TV ads are undervalued. They have some very curious…but real effects.


30th August, 2007

Social Contagion: “I’ll Have What She’s Having”

Harry Met SallyBuying, laughing, yawning and graffiti are all socially contagious. Now research says obesity is too. This has nothing to do with the power of suggestion or keeping up with the Joneses. To be influenced by others is genetically programmed in us and is an evolutionary hangover. more...

26th June 2007

black balloon adConformity as a Turn-off Tactic: Reducing Energy Consumption.

Turn-off tactics used in anti-smoking and road safety campaigns are being co-opted to get people to reduce their consumption of oil, energy, gasoline, water etc. Based on the latest research, here is a very simple turn-off tactic that might help address the energy binge.  Read more...

29th May, 2007

Subliminal Advertising, Like Energizer Bunny, Keeps Going… and Going.

McDonalds in Iron Chef programDo subliminal ads really work? Like the Energizer bunny, the brouhaha surrounding subliminal advertising just keeps going… and going.  In the last few years, heavyweights such as McDonalds and KFC have been accused of using ‘subliminal advertising’.  As has George W. Bush.  Why? What's behind all this?

On cable TV during an episode of Iron Chef America on the Food Network, a frame of the McDonalds golden arches was discovered in the program.  And when George W. Bush was running for President against Al Gore, the Republicans were also under fire, accused of using subliminals in their ads. View these ads and the full story on subliminal advertising... here.

12th May 2007

A Real Ad...What Were These People Thinking?

Can you believe that this is a real ad for a fast food chicken outlet?


Well it is real! In my years of tracking many hundreds of ad campaigns throughout the world, I have never seen anything like this. About 50% of the ads that I tracked, didn't work and some even had a negative effect. You can bet this is one of those that sends sales down. If the the communication target, the brand user, is mothers, then they are being asked to identify with this image of an on-screen user who is a table-top dancer! That should enhance their self-image and their image with the family. Unbelievable!!

12th April 2007

Acknowledging a Wart - Profiting from Honest Advertising

moon landerSometimes a politician emerges who resonates with voters because he or she is disarmingly frank and doesn’t couch every answer in political-speak.  In marketing too, ads that are disarmingly honest can make a brand resonate with potential buyers. New evidence indicates you can profit from honest ads that ‘acknowledge a wart’. 

When we first landed on the moon, Volkswagen ran a brilliant ad depicting the moon-lander with the headline: “It’s ugly, but it gets you there. VW”.

Two things made this such a great ad.  First, it gains huge attention by slipstreaming a high-profile event – indeed, the most watched event in history.  Second, it also stands outbecause it is disarmingly honest. It earns points for honesty and gains credibility for VW because it articulates what many people were actually thinking at the time; Volkswagens were ugly.

In other words, it ‘acknowledges a wart’.

21st March, 2007

MEG brain scan machineNeuromarketing: What's it all about?

In opening up a whole new world of understanding of the mind, neuroscience will deliver increasingly powerful, marketing insights. Its immediate application to marketing requires businesses to tread carefully and disentangle the scientific substance from the promotional hype. Businesses prepared to exercise this caution and engage with it now, have an opportunity for early-mover advantage - before neuromarketing gets regulated. Read more.

28th January, 2007

New Twist in Turn-off Tactics

Nicoderm_beauty_aidHere's a new twist. Nicoderm is promoting its skin patch by positioning quitting smoking as a beauty aid. (Original at adrants.)

Check out more examples of turn-off tactics here.





4th January, 2007

Symposium on Neuromarketing - Australia

On 16th February 2007, the Brain Sciences Institute ( Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne Australia) will hold its 1st Annual Symposium on Neuromarketing - The Neuroscience of Consumer Choice. Click here to download the program details.

Back in Feb, 2001, I first wrote about the SSPT brain wave measurement technology developed by Professor Richard Silberstein and his team at the Brain Science Institute. That column, New Hi-tech Ad Testing Method, can be accessed here.

What is neuromarketing? Find out here.

3rd January 2007

Mind on High, Thoughts on Fast Forward and Brands on Speed. mind speeded up

Ever had difficulty going to sleep because your thoughts are racing and you feel you are on a mild high? Speeding up mental processing generates some weird effects - even for ads and brands – and this has implications for fast-cut commercials.

We are often oblivious to the way our mind works because of the speed at which it operates - i.e. faster than our speed of introspection. We make sense of what we see too quickly to be conscious of the underlying processes involved, yet speeding these up can have profound effects. As brands gets recognized more rapidly, some curious things happen. ....Read more

Go to Weblog Archive 2006
Go to Weblog Archive 2004-5
Go to Home