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Is Persuasion Dead?

When I joined Ogilvy in the 1980s, the agency prided itself on using persuasion as a method for evaluating advertising success. We had to educate new clients who came from agencies that lived and died by Burke recall scores that recall was “necessary but not sufficient.” The emphasis on recall had led to shrill jingles such as the one for “Wisk around the collar” and special techniques designed to enhance recall, such as the battery “slamaround” at the end of the Duracell commercial.* These techniques boosted recall, but O&M got the Duracell account because, at the end of the day, those spots didn’t sell product.

I am now on the outside looking in, and it seems the energy has shifted to taking a stand on social or political issues. Again, the advertising seems shrill — but for a different reason. 

I’ve been studying the evidence behind the movement to focus on social issues and how market research can help provide a reality check on its success. I’ll be discussing this on the NewMR Festival Webinar on August 29 at 10 am NYC time.  You can sign up for the free webinar at:

Next week, I’ll discuss the reasons for the shift in focus from selling products to taking a stand on social issues. 

*Full disclosure: I worked on the Duracell account at O&M where I was told that the “slamaround” was the name for when the black and gold parts of the Duracell battery swung around and connected with a loud noise, which gave respondents something very concrete to report and was intended to boost recall scores. Memorable, yes, but not a compelling reason to buy Duracell.

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Karen Tibbals @KarenTibbals

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