Save Children with Media
Advertising Elegy

Collusive Influence

Advertising And Consumers
I'm speaking at the WARC Advertising and Consumers Conference on July 3rd in London. It's all, loosely, about INFLUENCE.

WARC says:

The programme is based on our belief that the old linear communication models have broken down – in today’s multi-media world, no brand owner can rely on winning the hearts and minds of an increasingly sophisticated and sceptical audience which continues to fragment, tag, stop, save, share and skip.

The old marketing mindset of ‘control’ has had its day. Emerging in its place is a new mindset of ‘engagement and influence’.

There are loads of great speakers, like Mark and Toby and another Toby, so it should be interesting and fun, despite my involvement. [Full list here.]

[Mind you, according to George Parker he finds inspiration on TIGS, and I wouldn't argue with him - thanks George, I shall buy you that pint as agreed - I had better think of something inspiring to say now.]

I wonder about INFLUENCE.

I imagine Toby 1 will be talking about OMD's new Influence Planning model - I'm interested to see how they conceive of it.

The thing about influence is that intuitively I feel it only works if people don't think it is working, but secretly want it to. You can't persuade someone to do something they don't really want to do, at least a bit.

Ask a used car salesman. People HATE being sold too - it smacks of coercion, which disrupts our notions of rational autonomy.

But people LOVE having external justification for their own desires.  Or a reason to focus their desires in a world of infinite choice.

When we talk about influencing consumers, it seems to suggests that we, the commercial persuaders, exert some power over our targets that make them do things they don't want to do.

But I suspect they collude. They are our partners in persuasion.

[Those of you who have seen Derren Brown influence people to spontaneously commit armed robbery may disagree.

[If you haven't seen it - go watch.]

But he repeatedly points out in his work that hypnosis is basically just getting people to play along. Persuasion requires tacit collusion. It needs to be tacit, otherwise other parts of your brain get involved and shut things down. That's why suggestion works better obliquely. Perhaps the reason that, in all surveys ever, most people think that advertising doesn't work on them is because that's a requirement for it to work.]

Once I work out what I mean by all that, I shall talk about it at the conference.

Do come and say hi.

If you want to.