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Re: news of the day: t-shirts...and ads

I'd love to see how big those yellow dots would get if they wired this
group up and showed us a nice brand-spanking new Plant Delights catalog.
Oh my, we could light up Fort Worth!! LOL

---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: "Bonnie Holmes" <holmesbm@usit.net>
Reply-To: gardenchat@hort.net
Date:  Mon, 17 Nov 2003 08:30:34 -0800

>Thanks, Marge.  A 2% return is not very much when you think about it.  I
>wondered what the cut off point would be and have noticed that the smaller
>companies often charge for their catalogues and/or cut you off if you don't
>purchase in a set period of time.  Some catalogues I like only for their
>ideas...some gift catalogues have interesting ideas for decorating, floral
>arrangements, etc.  Noticed an interesting article on the brain and
>advertising recently...thought I would share and see what you think....so
>now you know why people prefer Coke and are attracted to Porsches.
>October 26, 2003
>There's a Sucker Born in Every Medial Prefrontal Cortex
>When he isn't pondering the inner workings of the mind, Read Montague, a
>43-year-old neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine, has been known to
>contemplate the other mysteries of life: for instance, the Pepsi Challenge.
>In the series of TV commercials from the 70's and 80's that pitted Coke
>against Pepsi in a blind taste test, Pepsi was usually the winner. So why,
>Montague asked himself not long ago, did Coke appeal so strongly to so many
>people if it didn't taste any better? 
>Over several months this past summer, Montague set to work looking for a
>scientifically convincing answer. He assembled a group of test subjects
>and, while monitoring their brain activity with an M.R.I. machine,
>recreated the Pepsi Challenge. His results confirmed those of the TV
>campaign: Pepsi tended to produce a stronger response than Coke in the
>brain's ventral putamen, a region thought to process feelings of reward.
>(Monkeys, for instance, exhibit activity in the ventral putamen when they
>receive food for completing a task.) Indeed, in people who preferred Pepsi,
>the ventral putamen was five times as active when drinking Pepsi than that
>of Coke fans when drinking Coke. 
>In the real world, of course, taste is not everything. So Montague tried to
>gauge the appeal of Coke's image, its ''brand influence,'' by repeating the
>experiment with a small variation: this time, he announced which of the
>sample tastes were Coke. The outcome was remarkable: almost all the
>subjects said they preferred Coke. What's more, the brain activity of the
>subjects was now different. There was also activity in the medial
>prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that scientists say governs
>high-level cognitive powers. Apparently, the subjects were meditating in a
>more sophisticated way on the taste of Coke, allowing memories and other
>impressions of the drink -- in a word, its brand -- to shape their
>Pepsi, crucially, couldn't achieve the same effect. When Montague reversed
>the situation, announcing which tastes were of Pepsi, far fewer of the
>subjects said they preferred Pepsi. Montague was impressed: he had
>demonstrated, with a fair degree of neuroscientific precision, the special
>power of Coke's brand to override our taste buds. 
>Measuring brand influence might seem like an unusual activity for a
>neuroscientist, but Montague is just one of a growing breed of researchers
>who are applying the methods of the neurology lab to the questions of the
>advertising world. Some of these researchers, like Montague, are purely
>academic in focus, studying the consumer mind out of intellectual
>curiosity, with no corporate support. Increasingly, though, there are
>others -- like several of the researchers at the Mind of the Market
>Laboratory at Harvard Business School -- who work as full-fledged
>''neuromarketers,'' conducting brain research with the help of corporate
>financing and sharing their results with their sponsors. This summer, when
>it opened its doors for business, the BrightHouse Institute for Thought
>Sciences in Atlanta became the first neuromarketing firm to boast a Fortune
>500 consumer-products company as a client. (The client's identity is
>currently a secret.) The institute will scan the brains of a representative
>sample of its client's prospective customers, assess their reactions to the
>company's products and advertising and tweak the corporate image
>Not long ago, M.R.I. machines were used solely for medical purposes, like
>diagnosing strokes or discovering tumors. But neuroscience has reached a
>sort of cocky adolescence; it has become routine to read about researchers
>tackling every subject under the sun, placing test subjects in M.R.I.
>machines and analyzing their brain activity as they do everything from
>making moral choices to praying to appreciating beauty. Paul C. Lauterbur,
>a chemist who shared this year's Nobel Prize in medicine for his
>contribution in the early 70's to the invention of the M.R.I. machine,
>notes how novel the uses of his invention have become. ''Things are getting
>a lot more subtle than we'd ever thought,'' he says. It seems only natural
>that the commercial world has finally caught on. ''You don't have to be a
>genius to say, 'My God, if you combine making the can red with making it
>less sweet, you can measure this in a scanner and see the result,'''
>Montague says. ''If I were Pepsi, I'd go in there and I'd start scanning
>The neuroscience wing at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta is the
>epicenter of the neuromarketing world. Like most medical wards, it is
>filled with an air of quiet, antiseptic tension. On a recent visit, in the
>hallway outside an M.R.I. room, a patient milled around in a light blue
>paper gown. A doctor on a bench flipped through a clipboard and talked in
>soothing tones to a man in glasses, a young woman anxiously clutching his
>It was not a place where you would expect to encounter slick marketing
>research. And when Justine Meaux, a research scientist for the BrightHouse
>Institute, came out to greet me, she did seem strangely out of place.
>Clicking along in strappy sandals, with a tight sleeveless top and purple
>toenail polish, she looked more like a chic TV producer than a
>neuroscientist, which she is. Her specialty, as she explained, is ''the
>neural dynamics of the perception and production of rhythmic sensorimotor
>patterns'' -- though these days she spends her professional life thinking
>about shopping. ''I'm really getting into reading all this business stuff
>now, learning about campaigns, branding,'' she said, leading me down the
>hallway to the M.R.I. chamber that the Institute uses. Three years ago,
>after earning her Ph.D., she decided she wanted to apply brain scanning to
>everyday problems and was intrigued by marketing as a ''practical
>application of psychology,'' as she put it. She told me that she admired
>the ''Intel Inside'' advertising campaign, with its TV spots showing
>dancing men in body suits. ''Intel actually branded the inside of a
>computer,'' she marveled. ''They took the most abstract thing you can
>imagine and figured out a way to make people identify with it.'' 
>When we reached the M.R.I. control room, Clint Kilts, the scientific
>director of the BrightHouse Institute, was fiddling away at a computer
>keyboard. A professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral
>sciences at Emory, Kilts began working with Meaux in 2001. Meaux had
>learned that Kilts and a group of marketers were founding the BrightHouse
>Institute, and she joined their team, becoming perhaps the world's first
>full-time neuromarketer. Kilts is confident that there will soon be room
>for other full-time careers in neuromarketing. ''You will actually see this
>being part of the decision-making process, up and down the company,'' he
>predicted. ''You are going to see more large companies that will have
>neuroscience divisions.'' 
>The BrightHouse Institute's techniques are based, in part, on an experiment
>that Kilts conducted earlier this year. He gathered a group of test
>subjects and asked them to look at a series of commercial products, rating
>how strongly they liked or disliked them. Then, while scanning their brains
>in an M.R.I. machine, he showed them pictures of the products again. When
>Kilts looked at the images of their brains, he was struck by one particular
>result: whenever a subject saw a product he had identified as one he truly
>loved -- something that might prompt him to say, ''That's just so me!'' --
>his brain would show increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex. 
>Kilts was excited, for he knew that this region of the brain is commonly
>associated with our sense of self. Patients with damage in this area of the
>brain, for instance, often undergo drastic changes in personality; in one
>famous case, a mild-mannered 19th-century railworker named Phineas Gage
>abruptly became belligerent after an accident that destroyed his medial
>prefrontal cortex. More recently, M.R.I. studies have found increased
>activity in this region when people are asked if adjectives like
>''trustworthy'' or ''courageous'' apply to them. When the medial prefrontal
>cortex fires, your brain seems to be engaging, in some manner, with what
>sort of person you are. If it fires when you see a particular product,
>Kilts argues, it's most likely to be because the product clicks with your
>This result provided the BrightHouse Institute with an elegant tool for
>testing marketing campaigns and brands. An immediate, intuitive bond
>between consumer and product is one that every company dreams of making.
>''If you like Chevy trucks, it's because that has become the larger gestalt
>of who you self-attribute as,'' Kilts said, using psychology-speak.
>''You're a Chevy guy.'' With the help of neuromarketers, he claims,
>companies can now know with certainty whether their products are making
>that special connection. 
>To demonstrate their technique, Kilts and Meaux offered to stick my head in
>the M.R.I. machine. They laid me down headfirst in the coffinlike cylinder
>and scurried out to the observation room. ''Here's what I want you to do,''
>Meaux said, her voice crackling over an intercom. ''I'm going to show you a
>bunch of images of products and activities -- and I want you to picture
>yourself using them. Don't think about whether you like them or not. Just
>put yourself in the scene.'' 
>I peered up into a mirror positioned over my head, and she began flashing
>pictures. There were images of a Hummer, a mountain bike, a can of Pepsi.
>Then a Lincoln Navigator, Martha Stewart, a game of basketball and dozens
>more snapshots of everyday consumption. I imagined piloting the Hummer
>off-road, playing a game of pickup basketball, swigging the Pepsi. (I was
>less sure what to do with Martha Stewart.) 
>After about 15 minutes, Kilts pulled me out, and I joined him at a bank of
>computers. ''Look here,'' he said, pointing to a screen that showed an
>image of a brain in cross sections. He pointed to a bright yellow spot on
>the right side, in the somatosensory cortex, an area that shows activity
>when you emulate sensory experience -- as when I imagined what it would be
>like to drive a Hummer. If a marketer finds that his product is producing a
>response in this region of the brain, he can conclude that he has not made
>the immediate, instinctive sell: even if a consumer has a positive attitude
>toward the product, if he has to mentally ''try it out,'' he isn't
>instantly identifying with it. 
>Kilts stabbed his finger at another glowing yellow dot near the top of the
>brain. It was the magic spot -- the medial prefrontal cortex. If that area
>is firing, a consumer isn't deliberating, he said: he's itching to buy.
>''At that point, it's intuitive. You say: 'I'm going to do it. I want it.'
>he consuming public has long had an uneasy feeling about scientists who
>dabble in marketing. In 1957, Vance Packard wrote ''The Hidden
>Persuaders,'' a book about marketing that featured harsh criticism of
>''psychology professors turned merchandisers.'' Marketers, Packard worried,
>were using the resources of the social sciences to understand consumers'
>irrational and emotional urges -- the better to trick them into increased
>product consumption. In rabble-rousing prose, Packard warned about
>subliminal advertising and cited a famous (though, it turned out, bogus)
>study about a movie theater that inserted into a film several split-second
>frames urging patrons to drink Coke. 
>In truth, marketers only wish they had that much control. If anything,
>corporations tend to look slightly askance at their admen, because there's
>not much convincing evidence that advertising works as well as promised.
>John Wanamaker, a department-store magnate in the late 19th century,
>famously quipped that half the money he spent on advertising was wasted,
>but that he didn't know which half. In their quest for a more respectable
>methodology -- or perhaps more important, the appearance of one -- admen
>have plundered one scientific technique after another. Demographic studies
>have profiled customers by analyzing their age, race or neighborhood;
>telephone surveys have queried semi-randomly selected strangers to see how
>the public at large viewed a company's product. 
>Advertising's main tool, of course, has been the focus group, a classic
>technique of social science. Marketers in the United States spent more than
>$1 billion last year on focus groups, the results of which guided about
>$120 billion in advertising. But focus groups are plagued by a basic flaw
>of human psychology: people often do not know their own minds. Joey Reiman
>is the C.E.O. of BrightHouse, an Atlanta marketing firm, and a founding
>partner in the BrightHouse Institute; over years of producing marketing
>concepts for companies like Coca-Cola and Red Lobster, he has come to the
>conclusion that focus groups are ultimately less about gathering hard data
>and more about pretending to have concrete justifications for a hugely
>expensive ad campaign. ''The sad fact is, people tell you what you want to
>hear, not what they really think,'' he says. ''Sometimes there's a
>focus-group bully, a loudmouth who's so insistent about his opinion that it
>influences everyone else. This is not a science; it's a circus.'' 
>In contrast, M.R.I. scanning offers the promise of concrete facts -- an
>unbiased glimpse at a consumer's mind in action. To an M.R.I. machine, you
>cannot misrepresent your responses. Your medial prefrontal cortex will
>start firing when you see something you adore, even if you claim not to
>like it. ''Let's say I show you Playboy,'' Kilts says, ''and you go, 'Oh,
>no, no, no!' Really? We could tell you actually like it.'' 
>Other neuromarketers have demonstrated that we react to products in ways
>that we may not be entirely conscious of. This year, for instance,
>scientists working with DaimlerChrysler scanned the brains of a number of
>men as they looked at pictures of cars and rated them for attractiveness.
>The scientists found that the most popular vehicles -- the Porsche- and
>Ferrari-style sports cars -- triggered activity in a section of the brain
>called the fusiform face area, which governs facial recognition. ''They
>were reminded of faces when they looked at the cars,'' says Henrik Walter,
>a psychiatrist at the University of Ulm in Germany who ran the study. ''The
>lights of the cars look a little like eyes.'' 
>Neuromarketing may also be able to suss out the distinction between
>advertisements that people merely like and those that are actually
>effective -- a difference that can be hard to detect from a focus group. A
>neuromarketing study in Australia, for instance, demonstrated that
>supershort, MTV-style jump cuts -- indeed, any scenes shorter than two
>seconds -- aren't as likely to enter the long-term memory of viewers,
>however bracing or aesthetically pleasing they may be. 
>Still, many scientists are skeptical of neuromarketing. The brain, critics
>point out, is still mostly an enigma; just because we can see neurons
>firing doesn't mean we always know what the mind is doing. For all their
>admirable successes, neuroscientists do not yet have an agreed-upon map of
>the brain. ''I keep joking that I could do this Gucci shoes study, where
>I'd show people shoes I think are beautiful, and see whether women like
>them,'' says Elizabeth Phelps, a professor of psychology at New York
>University. ''And I'll see activity in the brain. I definitely will. But
>it's not like I've found 'the shoe center of the brain.''' James Twitchell,
>a professor of advertising at the University of Florida, wonders whether
>neuromarketing isn't just the next stage of scientific pretense on the part
>of the advertising industry. ''Remember, you have to ask the client for
>millions, millions of dollars,'' he says. ''So you have to say: 'Trust me.
>We have data. We've done these neurotests. Go with us, we know what we're
>doing.''' Twitchell recently attended an advertising conference where a
>marketer discussed neuromarketing. The entire room sat in awe as the
>speaker suggested that neuroscience will finally crack open the mind of the
>shopper. ''A lot of it is just garbage,'' he says, ''but the garbage is so
>In response to his critics, Kilts plans to publish the BrightHouse research
>in an accredited academic journal. He insisted to me that his primary
>allegiance is to science; BrightHouse's techniques are ''business done in
>the science method,'' he said, ''not science done in the business method.''
>And as he sat at his computer, calling up a 3-D picture of a brain, it was
>hard not to be struck, at the very least, by the seriousness of his
>passion. There, on the screen, was the medial prefrontal cortex, juggling
>our conscious thinking. There was the amygdala, governing our fears, buried
>deep in the brain. These are sights that he said still inspire in him
>feelings of wonder. ''When you sit down and you're watching -- for the
>first time in the history of mankind -- how we process complex primary
>emotions like anger, it's amazing,'' he said. ''You're like, there, look at
>that: that's anger, that's pleasure. When you see that roll off the
>workstation, you never look back.'' You just keep going, it seems, until
>you hit Madison Avenue. 
>Clive Thompson writes frequently about science and technology. His most
>recent article for the magazine was about the future of kitchen tools.
>Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
>Bonnie Zone 6+ ETN
>> [Original Message]
>> From: Marge Talt <mtalt@hort.net>
>> To: <gardenchat@hort.net>
>> Date: 11/17/2003 12:19:33 AM
>> Subject: Re: [CHAT] news of the day: t-shirts
>> Hmmm... Bonnie, what you say is true, but "part of doing business" is
>> also part of the bottom line.  Advertising costs need to be justified
>> like any business expenses.  The only tax break that business costs
>> get is that you can deduct a good many business expenses from your
>> taxes from the standpoint of arriving at a net profit or loss, which
>> is then what your tax is based upon.  So, in that regard, it's a
>> "break" of sorts, but it still has to be paid for. The cost of doing
>> business goes into the cost of whatever you're selling as a
>> business...and is passed on to the consumer in some form or other. 
>> So, those companies who produce tons of full color glossy catalogs
>> are passing that cost on in some form; they aren't going to simply
>> absorb it as a loss in most cases.
>> At one point in my checkered career, I was going to open a mail order
>> business and did a fair amount of research into advertising.  If I
>> recall correctly, direct mail advertising needs a 2% or more positive
>> response (meaning sale) to break even.  And, it's figured that people
>> need to see an ad 7 or 9 times (can't remember which) before the
>> company name sticks in the mind.
>> I'm sure that mail order catalogs are calculated along those lines -
>> that's why they have those customer numbers and other numbers on the
>> label that the company always asks you to give them when you place an
>> order - that's how they track how any ad campaign is doing...and
>> sending out catalogs is part of an ad campaign.  At the end of the
>> year, somebody tabulates which campaign resulted in the highest
>> number of sales and which didn't and the next year they either repeat
>> or change tactics depending.
>> The reason some firms seem to inundate us with catalogs is partly (as
>> was noted) people getting on lists with slightly different names or
>> both husband and wife getting on the same list, so getting 2 of any
>> catalog.  It's also due to the sale of lists of names and addresses,
>> but if you order from a company, you're on their list (as well as the
>> list of everyone who buys their list).  
>> Some companies (those who keep a good watch on the bottom line) will
>> remove your name if you don't order after x period of time, as you
>> noted; others just keep sending.  Either they have found sending
>> massive quantities of catalogs results in more sales or they aren't
>> watching their bottom line.  I'm supposing the former as big
>> companies have bean counters whose job is watching bottom line. 
>> Getting a new catalog every month (and I get them more often than
>> that from some companies) must work from their end, but it sure does
>> waste paper in amounts that are hard to fathom.
>> I get tons of catalogs (both business and personal).  Mailman can
>> hardly get the stuff in the mailbox.  I'd guess that 85% of them
>> arrive and go straight into the recycle bin, along with 99.99% of all
>> the other direct mail stuff we get.  Others get stacked and gone
>> through when the pile threatens to topple and crush me - and 90% of
>> those hit recycle.  I keep saving them; thinking I will get a chance
>> to go through them, but seldom do.  Garden catalogs are different. 
>> The ones from nurseries that I like get read and marked and dreamed
>> over and saved forever:-)  The ones I wouldn't order from if they
>> paid me go straight to recycle.
>> What's sort of getting on my nerves lately is the magazines sending
>> out monthly copies of their wares - these are coming to the business
>> - in hopes, I guess that we'll subscribe.  If we wanted the durn
>> things, we would have subscribed to them on our own hook; they are
>> well known publications - it's straight into recycle for them and it
>> takes my time to do that - not only that, but we get 2 and 3 copies
>> of some of them!  For over a year, we received 3 copies of TV Guide -
>> which nobody here uses - and which seemed to come out every week. 
>> They have FINALLY quit sending that one, thank heavens!
>> Marge Talt, zone 7 Maryland
>> mtalt@hort.net
>> Editor:  Gardening in Shade
>> -----------------------------------------------
>> Current Article: Variegation on the Green Theme - Part One
>> http://www.suite101.com/welcome.cfm/shade_gardening
>> ------------------------------------------------
>> Complete Index of Articles by Category and Date
>> http://mtalt.hort.net/article-index.html
>> ------------------------------------------------
>> All Suite101.com garden topics :
>> http://www.suite101.com/topics.cfm/635
>> ----------
>> > From: Bonnie Holmes <holmesbm@usit.net>
>> > Yes, but the printing is "part of doing business" and business
>> costs get
>> > tax breaks.   If the mailings get a certain return, I don't know
>> what the
>> > average is, then it is worth it to the business...like advertising
>> dollars.
>> > Not everyone who sees the ad will buy but if enough do, it is worth
>> it.  I
>> > have noticed that some mail order companies will drop you if you
>> don't
>> > order after a certain period of time.  The ones that really get me
>> are the
>> > ones that send a new catalog every other month. 
>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
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Pam Evans
Kemp TX/zone 8A


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