The Science of Decision Making
People drive engagement. Statistics, event announcements and basic information dissemination don’t.
At the end of the day, it’s our emotions or feelings that inform our decision making, not logic and reason.
This isn’t just a fun thing to say. A neuroscientist named Antonio Damasio proved it! He studied people with damage in the part of the brain where emotions are generated and found that while they seemed normal, they weren’t able to feel emotions. They all had something else in common too — they couldn’t make decisions. Though they could describe what they felt they should do in logical terms, they found it tough to make decisions as basic as what cereal to have for breakfast.
Not convinced? Think you’re an outlier because you’re just so analytical and pragmatic? Hate to break it to you, but you’re not that special. From religion to politics, people make decisions and pledge their allegiance based on how they feel, not facts. In 2008, Obama didn’t win because he had better data to present than all the other candidates. He won because he was able to instill hope in voters. Likewise in 2016, Trump was swept into office in large part due to his ability to channel the anger and frustration of America’s white middle class.
And brands are the most effective at appealing to our feelings and emotions. Take a look at these.
1. Don’t Do They. Do You. – Mountain Dew
Earlier this year, Mountain Dew partnered with the NBA and human cannonball Russell Westbrook for an awesome new campaign. The campaign messaging goes like this: “Russell Westbrook didn’t get where he is today by following the crowd. Watch him forge his own path in the latest spot from Dew.”
The first commercial in the series opens with Russell squaring up for a half-court heave. In the background, he narrates, “They say don’t practice shots you wouldn’t take in the game.” He continues to go through a list of things “They” tell him not to do that he does anyway because he’s unique. And you can be unique too. Don’t live your life by what “They” tell you. Do you.
2. Open Your World – Heineken
Responding to the division and hatred that spews through our computer and TV screens on a daily basis, Heineken set up a social experiment in which it paired people on two sides of a political issue to complete a task without making it known that the two were ideological opposites. What happened next is incredible.
3. Between Friends – Bud Light
This one comes from quite possibly the king of commercial advertising. I don’t know about you, but this artificially nostalgic bit really does make me want to call a friend I haven’t seen in a while and drink some Bud Lights on my back porch amid the fireflies.
4. Watching – Buffalo Wild Wings
Notice what BWW doesn’t do in this ad. It doesn’t show any of its menu items. It doesn’t talk about the taste of its food. All it does is sucker punch you with cuteness and make you want to leave work in the middle of the day to check your daughter out of school and go get some wings!
5. #Breaking2 Trailer – Nike
We love to root for the underdog. And Nike knows it. So rather than announcing that its new shoes were scientifically engineered to be the lightest, best running shoe, it created an entire event around breaking the two-hour marathon – something that’s never been done. And in this trailor, it presents the three heroes selected to complete the challenge.
What’s the point of this post? To remind you what connects with people. Stop building content around statistics or impact metrics or growth projections. You’re likely sitting on a treasure chest of engaging stories you’re just not telling.
Have a brainstorming meeting to identify the stories that are hiding in plain sight within your organization and put a plan in place to capture these in writing, video or imagery. If you’d like to talk through some ideas, you know where to find me.
– Seth Crawford, Digital Marketing Strategist