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Marketers Taking a Deep Dive into Pseudo-Intellectual Jargon

February 7th, 2017

As marketers, our ability to understand how people think is critical. It always has been. The jargon we sometimes employ to describe these varying thoughts is not. Sometimes our industry thinks it’s cool to use scientific sounding jargon to illustrate what it is we do, and at other times this same industry dictates that fancy-schmancy jargon is pseudo-intellectual clap trap and we drop back to the basics of language.

Apparently now we are in a building scientific jargon phase. Hence, many of our sort have embraced Endel Tulving’s (senior editor of the Oxford Handbook of Memory) description and naming of “three primary memory systems in the brain.” I don’t disagree that these systems exist, I just object to the unnecessary terminology.

We typically market to the head or the heart. We also know that sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, so we demonstrate. Although the methodology and style of the ads changes through the years, those fundamentals remain unchanged. Until now. Tulving suggests that the rational or thinking messaging that appeals to the data-driven part of the brain be called semantic or semantic memory. Conversely, the heart-targeting messaging must now be referred to as episodic, as the episodic memory system is where emotions reside. And finally, when the need is to demonstrate how a product works, we are to refer to our messaging as procedural.

Will that make the ads work better? Or will those terms live for two to three years before being called out as pseudo-intellectual clap trap? Probably the latter.

The folks at Ogilvy seem to think otherwise. They are hanging their hat on a newly created Ogilvy Center of Behavioral Science, claiming that “recently we have all seen how traditional demographics research can fail spectacularly in predicting outcomes.” Are they saying they could have done better than that one recent failure? I guess you’re supposed to think that they’re “scientists” and the rest of us drool, unless we are busy creating semantic messaging, then we still have a chance.

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