50,000,000 people can't be wrong

If you don’t follow Richard Shotton on Twitter, you should. Every day he posts thought-provoking ideas about our field.

He recently published an article outlining three mistakes to avoid when applying behavioral science to advertising.

1. Negative social proof. We are social animals. If you try to guilt me into donating to public radio by telling me, “95% of listeners don’t support their local public radio stations,” you’ve probably lost me.  Generally speaking, people like doing things that others are doing.

2. Pratfall Effect. Few brands do this. In short, people are attracted to other people (or brands) that are relatable, and flaws make you relatable.  The Domino’s Pizza campaign in which they confessed that their pizza was terrible and they needed to do better is a recent example of this. The VW Beetle “boasted” of its ugliness, which gave it a voice that broke through the clutter.

3. Following the Herd. It isn’t an act of courage for a brand to do something unconventional.  It’s common sense. All marketers say they want to break category norms, but very few do because there is a misleading feeling of safety in following the herd.

Shotton’s book, The Choice Factory, expands on these and other ideas from behavior science.