Mirror Neurons Create Successful Advertising: How The Apple IPod Did It with Positive Consumer Behavior
January 2, 2012 7 Comments
I cannot stress enough to advertise and demonstrate the benefits of a product. One way which can help explain how to do this is to understand mirror neurons and how the Apple IPod them successfully. Mirror neurons have an interesting effect on consumer behavior, for example, imagine you are watching a hockey game on T.V.; the offensive team flips the puck deep into the offensive zone where two opposing players chase it. The offensive forward approaches the corner boards, planning to play the puck behind the goal and around the boards. The player on the opposite team swarms the forward, you can see the hit coming, your muscles tense, your heart rate increases, then you wince as the opposing player slams his entire bodyweight against the forward, shaking the plexi glass wall, and allowing the forward to drop to the ice, what a hit, right? However, did you notice those mirror neurons fire? You were not the one who was about to be smeared across the boards, but you still prepared yourself as if you were. These are the mirror neurons in action.
Mirror neurons are a population of neurons located in the ventral pre-motor cortex of the brain, they discharge when an animal hears or sees the same action of another animal (Keysers, Kohler, Umilta, Nanetti, Fogassi, & Gallese, 2002). As in the example above, the same response in our brain fires when the player is hit as if it was we. Now obviously you would not want to “smash” your customer’s or intend to harm them at all. Instead, aim for positive mirror neurons, such as enjoyment. Looking at two examples from similar products, the Apple IPod and Microsoft’s Zune, we can see how each company approached their advertising.
The IPod video is showing a young adult male, jamming in his living room to some hot techno music. He then makes a couple clicks on the computer, picks up a device the size of a deck of cards, hits a button on the device, and the music resumes. The young man is happy, dancing around the apartment. Our mirror neurons fire, we feel as though we can have the same fun with the product. Now compare the IPod commercial to Microsoft’s Zune commercial.
The Zune’s commercial is, well, confusing. It is showing two birds together on a tree, and they suddenly burst into flames. The difference is the IPod commercial is demonstrating a key component in advertising: show the benefits. We, the viewers, have more of a positive response to the benefit of the IPod than the Zune. Our mirror neurons see the young man in the IPod commercial enjoying himself, subconsciously we urn to enjoy ourselves, therefore creating a positive response in the reward centers of our brain when we make a purchase.
Keysers, C., Kohler, E., Umilta, M. A., Nanetti, L., Fogassi, L., & Gallese, V. (2002). Audiovisual mirror neurons and action recognition. Experimental Brain Research , 153 (4), 628 – 636.