An Approach to Motivation Research From Advertising Strategy: From Freud to the Iconic Brand

An Approach to Motivation Research From Advertising Strategy: From Freud to the Iconic Brand

Jorge David Fernández Gómez (University of Seville, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3119-8.ch016

Abstract

This chapter deals with the influence of Motivation Research from its origins to the present, connecting the psychological school of the deep to the Advertising Strategy. Motivation Research is born closely linked to the advertising industry, a relationship that is maintained today, although in a silent way. The Strategic Advertising Mechanisms that under its influence originate within the advertising agencies will be studied. And with it the storytelling techniques, related directly to these mechanisms. This work is intended to demonstrate the strong presence of the MR in the advertising sector despite the fact that many critics took it as dead in the sixties of the last century. Indeed, in the 21st century, advertising agencies continue to use unconscious motives, emotion, symbols, qualitative techniques or storytelling to develop their campaign strategies.
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Background

Since 1908, when Walter Dill Scott published what can be considered the first work that rigorously combines psychology and advertising, The Psychology of Advertising, to the works of J. B. Watson and, although by opposition, W. McDougall—with the essential works Behaviorism (1925) and The Battle of Behaviorism (1928)—and the prolific work of B. F. Skinner, especially About Behaviorism (1974), a significant amount of the psychological approaches that advertising borrows are of a behavioural nature. Based largely on Pavlov’s conditioned reflexes and relying on some sort of efficiency—finding the right stimuli to obtain the response to the purchase—, this school has enjoyed prolific professional application and a rich academic theorisation in the advertising sector. Under the maxim of stimulus-response that originated at the beginning of the century, numerous brand theories—situated in the paradigm of Product Branding—and, paradoxically, strategic advertising mechanisms with a rationalist approach—Dominant Idea (Finn, 1919), Reason Why (Hopkins, 1923) or the Unique Selling Proposition (Reeves, 1961)—have enjoyed a notoriety and longevity that was unparalleled until well into the 1950s. Names such as Kennedy, Hopkins or Reeves—backed by the quantitative techniques used by researchers such as Politz—, framed in what came to be called “modern advertising”, have been closely linked to this psychological current, reaping success and making it so that this methodology of behaviourist-based work, with its respective strategic mechanisms, received the label of “scientific advertising”.

The cornerstones of behaviourism are the goal of efficiency on the strength of messages that stimulate sales, and therefore the return of investment—originally through the use of sale coupons—along with the development of quantitative research techniques in order to measure such efficiency.

MR was precisely born as a response to behaviourist postulates and the conception of the Economic Man theory, or the idea that the consumer makes purchase decisions in an objective and rational way. In effect, MR—“the second boom”, as Fox calls it (1997, p. 172)—emphasises the intimate psychology of the consumer and not the generalist behaviour patterns of an eminently empirical nature proposed by behaviourist approaches.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Strategic Advertising Mechanisms: Planning methodologies for the creation of campaigns.

Storytelling: Narrative-inspired technique for the generation of branded content.

Motivation Research: A set of psychological concepts and techniques inspired by psychoanalysis and applied to advertising.

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