Even a kick in the ass is a step forward

Dalibor Šumiga Behavioral marketing/Neuromarketing, Marketing

Read the titles below and imagine that these are the titles of a blog or a lecture:

01) Can rain affect your purchasing habits?

02) Are women better mathematicians than men?

03) Can the consumption of oranges increase your affection towards Fanta?

Each of these titles’ goal is to capture your attention, and you have to admit that if you attended a conference where a lecture with this kind of title took place, you would make sure you were present at that lecture.

The same thing happens with a blog – such a title will definitely make you click on the link.

Have you noticed that all of these titles are, mainly, also spoilers? In most cases, you can be sure that the lecturer wouldn’t have given the lecture such a title if he hadn’t come up with an incredible discovery that actually invites you to attend the lecture.

Most frequently, the answer to the question from the lecture title is – YES.


This case got me thinking – why wouldn’t I give a lecture where I would show all the behavioral examples that failed, but without revealing it in the announcement?

Imagine that this is the announcement of my lecture:

Can we become successful executives using a blue pen? Can chocolate consumption increase the capacity of your brain? Can a woman CEO increase profit margin if she wears a blue dress?

You’ll find answers to these questions in an incredible lecture by Dalibor Šumiga…

Admit it, you would love to hear this lecture, and if we were to follow the common practice of these announcements, you would expect that to all three questions the answer is – YES. Why? Who on Earth would come to a lecture that presents research which discovered – NOTHING?

Honestly, I would like to give it just to see the audience’s reaction when the answer to all the questions from the announcement would be – NO.

I’m pretty sure that most of the audience would be disappointed and I would get very bad reviews for the lecture.


A similar thing can very often be seen in research…

Every one of us is, at least slightly, suffering from a cognitive bias called “confirmation bias”, according to which we are biased towards information that confirms our beliefs.

Very often, brand managers want to conduct research on the perception of customers, but they already, in the subconscious, secretly wish for a certain outcome.

Here at Promosapiens, we conduct numerous behavioral studies and sometimes we learn incredible information, but in a significant number of experiments we find out – nothing… Or at least, this is how our client sees it.

Very often this is the case in neuromarketing testing of ads – you want to test your ad, so you expect it to be extraordinary or very bad when compared with the competition.

If you were on board with the idea from the ad and if it’s extraordinary, we will confirm that you made the right choice.

If you were immediately against the idea from this ad, we will confirm that you were right when you were criticizing the idea.

But what no brand/marketing manager prepares for is that the ad turns out to be decent – neither very bad nor very good…

And this is the case with most ads we see and listen to…


You’ve heard about the famous Wanamaker’s quote: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half…”

The British agency System1 whose main field of expertise is measuring the emotional effect of ads and its influence on long-term brand growth, about a year ago launched a project of emotional measurement of ads. On a sample of about 27.000 ads from the US and the UK, they made a top list in which ads get a rating from 1 to 5 stars, where 1 star represents 0% of growth potential for the brand and 5 stars represent 3%+ of brand growth potential.

Their analysis showed that 50% of ads don’t really contribute to the brand and from the remaining 50% majority is not even close to its full potential…

Well known marketing expert Dave Trott has cited in his articles for years the results of UK study showing that customers find 4% of commercials positive, 7% negative, and 89% don´t remember at all.

Now imagine that you have paid for research that has shown that your ad is nothing more than – average…

The feeling is not pleasant at all, but most brand managers perceive these results incorrectly.

In research, learning that a certain hypothesis is not confirmed is actually very useful information.

It’s a piece of information that gives you a chance to change something before your numbers drop and the competition takes over your customers.

Despite the fact that no one likes to hear bad news, even a kick in the ass is actually a step forward…