Monday, May 7, 2012

Another use for Baye's Theorum

          Ever hear of Baye's Theorum? It's a scientific way of assigning probability to a hypothesis based on some evidence. It's often used to describe what our minds do when we see something we might have seen before.

         Without going into the details (mainly because I can't), it multiplies the prior probability of what you've experienced before, with the likelihood of its being the same this time.

         Which, for my money, seems like it applies to all the ordinary commercials we see on our TV sets and computers. The endless parade of spokespeople, celebrities, models with lustrous hair, diagrams of headache relief, serious announcers, and other silliness.

         In a second or two, your brain knows what's coming, knows it's seen this kind of stuff before, holds its nose, and tells your mind to wander off.

         Our brains are wonderful things. Do you think they want us to spend a moment on things that have nothing to do with us? Do you think they want to be cluttered with names and facts and ditties and memories that can't help us or even entertain us?

         Fortunately, our brains protect us from absorbing all but maybe 15 or 16 of the thousands of commercial messages we are bombarded with everywhere every day. Good thing. If it didn't, we'd go bonkers.

         In elementary school you undoubtedly learned who Americus Vespucci was. America was named after him. But why? And who cares? We don't remember him because he has little to do with our lives. The same principle goes for advertising.

         We in advertising should probably write this over our computers: "Remember Americus".  Hopefully it will help us keep in mind that our ads have to be important and relevant to people, or they're lost. Our commercials have to help people, or equip them with believable information, or let them in on something worth knowing. Even if it's just a good joke.

          If they don't, Mr. Baye's Theorum will instantly materialize and your audience will disappear. One day, perhaps for good.

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