A Psychologist and an Ad Guy Walk into a Bar

Palmer McGraw and Hilary Monroe

Dan Monheit, Strategy Director at Hardhat agency, and Dr. Melissa Weinberg, Psychologist with LifePsych, used five famous advertisements from the past twenty years to illustrate the intersection of Psychology and Advertising. Given all of the research done in the field of psychology regarding behavioral economics, Monheit asks strategist to consider, “how can we use all of this information to create better ads?”

Budweiser’s “Wassup” ad that ran at the 2000 Super Bowl utilized the strategy of vernacular jack to attach the brand to a phrase. By repeating the phrase over and over again in the ad, they attached the feeling of wanting a Budweiser beer to that phrase. The popularity, and utter hilariousness, of this iconic add caused the phrase “Wassup?” to be used over one million times a day, making every utterance a subtle add.

P&G’s 2010 U.S. Olympic ad entitled “Thank you Mom” was enormously successful despite the short time frame they had to make it and the extensive sub-brands they needed to incorporate into the spot. However, by creating content that resonated with audiences on an emotional level they perfectly crafted a commercial that evoked what Monheit and Weinberg dub the memory availability bias. This bias essentially means that it is easier to recall content that is both emotional and personal, so ads should work to create advertisements as such to enhance recall.

TAC, an Australian safety initiative, created a campaign to lower car fatalities to zero. This advertisement was successful because they implemented the framing effect. This explains that they way that we interpret information has little to do with the information itself. It is how the information is communicated that makes us engage with it.

In 2006, Apple created a campaign that was enormously successful because they utilized the peak end rule. This strategy explains that judgement of experience is not how we felt during it, but how we felt at the end of it. Monheit and Weinber suggest that strategists pick 2 or 3 key points and place the most important at the end because that is what people will remember.

Finally, in 2007 Unicef created a campaign which drew on the licensing effect. This theory explains how we seek balance with our decisions. It is why once we accomplish something challenging, such as finishing a huge school assignment or meeting another personal goal, we give ourselves permission to indulge or, in other words, “treat yourself!”

Health and Wellness at SXSW

Advertising students Joél Garza and Gabby Axelson stretched out at the health and wellness expo at SXSW.

From acupuncture to mushroom jerky, and sex toys to dental freshners, the Expo was booming with many people of many backgrounds. The sessions on health and wellbeing, understanding the importance of health to attendees of SXSW.

One vendor, Joaquin Brown, demonstrated an app called Yoga Wake Up. After attending a yoga class, he realized the value of breathing and relaxing when waking in the morning. An App idea was born. Instead of an annoying alarm, Joaquin created an app that wakes you with relaxing music and voice of a coach who leads breathing exercises to ready you for the day. With 40 different teachers and 120 different classes available, the app is adding more languages to their classes, to expand their reach globally. 

AOMA Graduate School of Integrated Medicine was there promoting Chinese and integrated forms of medicine. One of the TAI students even experienced the benefits of acupuncture first-hand. Pain is really on everyone’s mind when thinking of acupuncture, but Hannah said, “The whole process was painless. Bassically less pain or similar to a bug bite.”

It was interesting that while SXSW attracts people from all over the world to communicate and learn about themselves and about each other, the Wellness expo provided opportunities to learn about health and living your best life. We left feeling immersed in the SXSW community, the wellness culture and were ready to get back to the action at Interactive.

TAI Students Attend South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference

This Spring Break, TAI students and faculty went to South by Southwest (SXSW) to attend the SXSW Conference, which included sessions on Brands & Marketing, Design, Development & Code, Experiential Storytelling, VR/AR and the Intelligent Future.

TAI students and faculty during SXSW.

Students attending enrolled in a course, got a student discount and will be receiving 3 hours of pass/fail credit for the experience. The speakers and sessions at the SXSW Conference explore the newest trends and what’s next in entertainment, culture, and technology.

“The most relevant thing I learned was to create interesting content,” TAI graduate student Peyton Meersman said. “I think every session mentioned that content has to be original, creative, and interesting in order for it to be successful.”

While SXSW offers a wide variety of session topics, students attending found the sessions diverse and fascinating. A big topic discussed in many sessions was virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

“AI was a big theme at SXSW,” SMU student Katherine Scarpulla said. “I felt the most reasonable and crucial point I was presented was the healthy equation of AI. Chris White of Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit argued during his Lighting Up The Dark Web session that in order to solve our human created social problems, we must incorporate a healthy mix of data, AI and human interaction. He also stressed the importance of data literacy and the beneficence of data narrative to better illustrate social problems.”

TAI Professor Amber Benson and Director Dr. Steve Edwards

Along with the SXSW experience, TAI students got to shadow members of Agency Entourage, a Dallas-based creative digital agency, during sessions and attend a Boat Party hosted by the agency.

“The Agency Entourage boat party was a lovely experience,” Scarpulla said. “This experience enabled SMU Temerlin students to network with members of Agency Entourage as well as other professionals attending SXSW. I personally had to opportunity to talk with Austin, an AE member, who I had attended a session with earlier that day. I appreciated the occasion to discuss my experiences and thoughts about SXSW Interactive with advertising professionals and hear their thoughts and comments. It enabled me to view the information I gained during sessions from multiple viewpoints and understand its application to fields/industries other than mine.”

This was the first year that students could attend SXSW through TAI while receiving course credit. Many students were excited about the opportunity and greatly enjoyed their time spent in Austin.

“My SXSW Interactive experience was absolutely amazing,” Scarpulla said. “I cannot imagine not having attended this event because of the knowledge and relationships I gained as a result. I would encourage other Temerlin Students to apply for the course as it is an opportunity to apply your academics to real-time experiences.”