May 28, 2004


The Hidden Power of Advertising, Robert Heath

They say (ex: Jeremy Bullmore| WPP; Robert Deutsch| DDB) it is probably the biggest and most important development in advertising thinking since AIDA model: Awareness-Interest-Desire-Action ; and will have profound implications for research, branding and advertising practice. It presents a radical new challenge to traditional theories about the way consumers interact with and process brand communication.

"In a highly readable 124-page Admap monograph entitled The Hidden Power of Advertising, Heath contends that conventional advertising research methods, based on measures of awareness and recall, are to a large extent useless. This is because of the inadequacy of what he calls the Cartesian model of advertising in which ads work by persuading the conscious mind of the merits of the things advertised."

The subtitle of his book is how low involvement processing influences the way we choose brands, and it sums up Heath's view of how much advertising, especially on TV, achieves its effect. He puts forward 17 rules for how the Low Involvement Processing Model works. They are, in abbreviated form, as follows.

1. Most consumers believe most reputable brands perform similarly.
2. Consequently they choose brands not on rational grounds but according to subconscious "markers".
3. They pay little conscious attention to advertising.
4. Active learning, or high involvement processing, produces enduring attitude changes.
5. However, most of us tend to process most media passively.
6. Despite appearances TV is a relatively low attention medium.
7. Advertisers try to get around this with attention-getting devices.
8. However, consumers' perceptual filtering blocks these except where they are integrated with the message of the ad.
9. Information can be acquired passively by implicit learning, a subsconscious process that uses automatic processing and feeds into implicit memory.
10. Such memory stores perceptions and simple concepts only.
11. Info can also be acquired semi-consciously via shallow processing. Together shallow and automatic processing make up low involvement processing.
12. Most ads are processed using low involvement processing.
13. Implicitly learned perceptual and conceptual elements are stored as associations with the brand.
14. Implicit learning is used every time you see or hear an ad irrespective of how much conscious attenion you give it or whether you love or loathe it.
15. Ads processed with high involvement are outnumbered by up to 50 times by low involvement ads.
16. Implicit memory, though building more slowly than explicit memory, it is more durable.
17. If a brand association triggers an emotional marker, consumers can be strongly influenced towards the brand without realising it.

1 comment:

Charles Frith said...

Dr. Robert Heath has chipped into the debate on pre-testing, however low involvement (low attention) is very much part of the debate over here.