New and improved Neuromarketing or Brand X Motivational Research?

Much of what’s getting touted as Neuromarketing is neither new nor neuro. Sometimes, tried and true marketing methods are getting “reincarnated” in Cognitive Science terminology. And that’s the good news. The bad news is that Motivational Research discredited and discarded a half century ago is being recycled.

The designers of primitive ads from the ‘20s and ‘30s with cartoon line drawings and kapow copy — e.g. Charles Atlas and the bully of the beach – perfectly understood the use of fear and greed (avoidance and approach). Adolf Hitler, that practitioner of American snake oil peddler / preacher sales techniques (as so impressed Wizard of Oz Watson) succinctly explained the need to target the emotions:
“[Propaganda] must be aimed at the emotions and only to a very limited degree at the so-called intellect… The art of propaganda lies in understanding the emotional ideas of the great masses and finding, through a psychologically correct form, the way to the attention and thence to the heart of the broad masses.”
– Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, pp. 180

Disruption really refers to two very different things: cognitive dissonance and dissociation / automaticity. Cognitive dissonance affects the schemas and dissociation / automaticity sculpts identity and habit through memory. Though both are not necessarily conscious, there’s nothing primitive, much less reptilian, about either of the processes.

And when it comes to rampant confusion with neural anatomy and emotions, it’s really leapin’ lizards with the Neuro and other new Marketing gurus. The amygdala is part of the limbic system, not the reptilian complex. For Neurobiology, the emotions are not some primeval relics, but are instead some of a number of important instruments in the concert that is consciousness.