in Design Research

Frontline dissects brand marketing

Frontline is doing the Frontline treatment on brand strategy and the latest marketing. There’s a few refreshingly honest people, and the rest are either critical of the methods or vary from slightly to very silly… A market researcher probes a participant, “Would you say you feel lonely when you eat white bread? Anxious? Trusting?

Read Montague’s Neuromarketing — potentially the most far-fetched method — sounded the most convincing, mainly because he’s an actual psychiatrist and not a hack. “I get to the reptilian brain… in France cheese is alive, you don’t put it in the refrigerator just as you don’t put your cat in the refrigerator. It must be marketed as alive. In the U.S. cheese is dead, it must be pasteurized and put in the refridgerator, and it is sealed in plastic like a body bag, and put in the cold, like a morgue.

From a design perspective, it strikes me that this approach could be upstream of designers, displacing parts of ethnography. The design brief may come from the psychiatrist.

And of course there’s the deeper issue of marketers creating an alternate reality, going beyond selling to obscuring the truth of issues. And that’s why I like Frontline, they’re very good at exposing the truth.