Sunday, 11 March 2012

Advertising Works 20 – Charlie Snow.

Enjoyed it, as usual. This is a year for low budget cases, which is very interesting, as it demands more creativity in proving the effectiveness. The most interesting cases are the first direct case, where the whole advertising idea was to advertise the existing customers’ opinion about the brand. A similar strategy was used to promote tourism in Iceland. Instead of advertising to potential tourist, it was advertised to Icelanders so that they advertise via social media to potential toruists. “the most successful participation-led entries have used consumer participation as a platform for reaching out to less engged consumrs or non-users.” (Mc Kerr in Snow, 2011, p.22).

The Organ Donor Register is another extremely clever case: instead of trying to convince people that they should donate an organ, they were asked by the campaign whether they would b willing to accept an organ in an emergeny. Since 96% agree on this question, they become aware of their hypocrisy of not registering for donation.

And in the introductory papers there is some very clever thinking:
“So how does advertising work then? The answer is that it largely works without forcing people to consider and change their opinions. And this is why much advertising can get away with being very ‘soft sell’.” (Waters and Sharp in Snow, 2011, p.7).

“People have a tendency to see advertising for brands that they already use, and are less likely notice advertising for brands that they do not use. It’s very common for people to report, with some surprise, that after buying a car they notice lots of advertising for thebrand they bought that they did not see previously. This is because we have a tendency to pay more attention to things we like, and we have more developed memory structures for brands we use so it takes kess mental effort to process advertising fr brands we buy. Consequently users of a brand are two to three times more likely to recall its advertising than non-users of the brand (Sharp et. al., 2001). This means that advertising is particularly good at refreshing existing memories; I can do this rather quickly and without us giving the advertising much dedicated attention or deep mental processing.” (Waters and Sharp in Snow, 2011, p.8).

“the effectiveness results that could be claimed by participation-let awards entries were largely related to market share defence. Participation appeared to work best as a means of engaging existing loyalists, soring up or enriching their relationship with the brand.” (McKerr in Snow, 2011, p.20).

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Dostoyevsky – The Devils.

The book begins with Like vii 32-36:
“And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. Then went the devils out of the man, and into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled,nd went an told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind: and they were afraid. They also which saw it told them by what means he that was possessed of the devild was healed.” (Dostoyevsky, 1953, p.0).

A story that is often used by Rene Girard as an example for the scapegoat mechanism as opposed to Christ’s forgiveness: “If it is by the spirit of god that I cast out demons, the soon there will be no more demons or expulsions for the kingdom of violence and expuslion will rapidly be destroyed. (…) Instead of casting it out he (Jesus) is himself cast out, thereby revealing to men the mystery of expulsion” (Girard, 1986, p.190).

Dostoyevsky’s characters in the Devil try to ‘cast out the demons’ by accepting their own suffering and make themselves suffer as much as possible. Stavrogin, for example:
“’I want to forgive myself. That is my chief purpose, my only purpose!’ Stavrogin said suddenly, with gloomy rapture in his eyes. ‘I know that only then will the apparition vanish. That is why I seek boundless suffering. Seek it myself.’ (…)
‘If you believe,’ Tikhon exclaimed rapturously, ‘that you can forgive yourself and obtain forgiveness for yourself in this world through suffering, if you set that purpose before you with faith, then you believe in everything already. Why, then, did you say that you did not believe in God?’
Stavrogin made no answer.
‘God will forgive you for your unbelief, for you respect the Holy Spirit without knowing him.’” (Dostoyevsky, 1953, p.703).

There is another stream of thought in the book, most prominently declared by Shatov: he suffers as well, but only to prove his free will over God:

“’What deters people from committing suicicide in your opinion?’ I asked. (…) ‘I-I’m afraid I don’t know much yet. Two prejudices deter them. Two things. Two only. One a very little one, and the other a very big one. But the little one is also big.’
‘What is the little one?’
‘Pain.’ (…)
‘Well, an what is the second reason, the big one?’
‘The next world!’
‘You mean punishment?’
‘Makes no difference. The next world – just the next world.’” (Dostoyevsky, 1953, p.125).
“’He who conquers pain and fear will himself be a god. And that other God will not be.’
‘So, according to you, the other God does exist, after all?’
‘He doesn’t exist, but He is. There’s no pain in a stone, but there is pain in the fear of a stone.’” (Dostoyevsky, 1953, p.126).

“’If there is a God, then it is always His will, and I can do nothing against His will If there isn’t, then it is my will, and I am bound to express my self-will.’
‘Self-will? And why are you bound?’
‘Because all will has become mine. Is there no man on this planet who, having finished with God and believing in hs own will, will have enough courage to express his self-will in its most important point? It’s like a beggar who has inherited a fortune and is afraid of it and does not date to go near his bag of gold, thinking himself too weak to own it. I want to express my self-will. I may be the only one, but I’m going to do it.’
‘Do it!’
‘I’m bound to shoot myself, because the most important point of my self-will is to kill myself.’
‘But you’re not the only one to kill yourself. There are lots of suicides.’
‘Those have a motive. I’m the only one to do it without any motive, but simply of my free will.’” (Dostoyevsky, 1953, p.613).

At the end of the book both character, Stavrogin and Shatov, commit suicide. The latter to declare his free will over god, and the other to finally suffer enough, to overcome his guilt.

Both do not manage to overcome the scapegoat meachnism: one simply tries to suffer for his already committed sins. Thus he can’t reveal the scapegoat mechanism – since he is guilty. Only an innocent vicim canreveal the mechanism. Shatov, on the other hand commits suicide to prove his free wil. He is so self interested in his ‘perfect free will’, that he doesn’t care, what other think of him. To prove that he signs a letter saying he was responsible for a murder. Being completely egocentric, no one will ever know of his innocent suicide (his innocence is perversely only know to the murderers)and thus his disinterest in other people makes him fail to reveal the scapegoat mechanism.

The both are close to unvealing the scapegoat mechanism, and there are passages in the book, that indicate that they found it.

“’Perhaps I haven’t been fair to them! We are all to blame, we are all to blame and – if only we were all convinced of that!’” (Dostoyevsky, 1953, p.580).

But the tragedy of the book is, that none of the characters finally reveals it. “My desires are never storng enough. They cannot guide me.” (Dostoyevsky, 1953, p.666).

Friday, 2 March 2012

The seven basic plots / Why we tell stories – Brooker 2004

A book that aims to explain to us why we tell stories. It gives a nice summary of the 7 basic plots of stories.

“But in fact there are certain things we can be pretty sure we know about our story even before it begins. For a start, it is likely that the story will have a hero, or a heroine, (…) in the story ultimately rests; someone with whom, as we say, we can identify. (…) We are introduced to our hero or heroine in an imaginary world.” (Brooker, 2004, KINDLE).
“Then something happens: some event or encounter which precipitates the story's action, giving it a focus. (…) This event or summons provides the `Call' which will lead the hero or heroine out of their initial state into a series of adventures or experiences which, to a greater or lesser extent, will transform their lives.” (Brooker, 2004, KINDLE).
“The next thing of which we can be sure is (…) that the action which the hero or heroine are being drawn into will involve conflict and uncertainty,” (Brooker, 2004, KINDLE).
“Finally we shall sense that the impetus of the story is carrying it towards some kind of resolution. (…) Either they end, as we say, happily, with a sense of liberation, fulfilment and completion. Or they end unhappily, in some form of discomfiture, frustration or death. (…) The plot of a story is that which leads its hero or heroine either to a 'catastrophe' or an `unknotting'; either to frustration or to liberation; either to death or to a renewal of life.” (Brooker, 2004, KINDLE).

For all types of story holds:
“(1) This begins with an initial phase when we are shown how the hero or heroine feel in some way constricted. This sets up the tension requiring resolution which leads into the action of the story.
(2) This is followed by a phase of opening out, as the hero or heroine sense that they are on the road to some new state or some far-off point of resolution.
(3) Eventually this leads to a more severe phase of constriction, where the strength of the dark power and the hero or heroine's limitations in face of it both become more obvious.
(4) We then see a phase where, although the dark power is still dominant, the light elements in the story are preparing for the final confrontation. This eventually works up to the nightmare climax, when opposition between light and dark is at its most extreme and the pressure on everyone involved is at its greatest.
(5) This culminates in the moment of reversal and liberation, when the grip of the darkness is finally broken. The story thus ends on the sense of a final opening out into life, with everything at last resolved.” (Brooker, 2004, KINDLE, L 3913).

“The essential pattern underlying all this, the pattern of any properly constructed story, is therefore that of a threefold ebb-and-flow, in which the swings between the two poles become more pronounced until the climax is reached.” (Brooker, 2004, KINDLE, L 3920).

Thus far, it is a very interesting book. But when it tries to go one step beyond the mere categorization, it wasn’t that convincing at all. When it tried to explain why we tell stories, Brooker argues (in a Jungian framework), that we learn form stories the archetypal roles we can/ should play in life, seems to me quite simplistic. That the archetypes appear in books, no one can deny. But why it should be only those roles, and why there can’t more (less stereotypical) roles is less convincing.

Moreover, being able to find these roles in most stories, doesn’t necessarily add explanatory power – so there is always a feeling, that it is a rather descriptive an not very analytical or even new argument.

And the last step, that we tell stories s we can learn to play these archetypal roles, I finally find patronizing.

So overall, a very interesting first part of the book. Disappointing part 2-end.
PS: i switched to kindle for my business books. hence less good-looking pictures of business books. the good news is: i will buy proper novels only as hardcovers . better pictures of better good-looking books.