Category Archives: Marketing

Facebook and Creativity

Last week I was discussing how our brains function differently if we change what nostril we breathe through (according to an old study that I haven’t looked up since the early 90’s).

It comes as no surprise to anyone that our moods and brain activiites are affected by colours – from experiments with alternate lighting to provoke feelings of ennuie, excitement or paranoia to the various nearly feng shui colour schemes for our trendy homes to provoke just the right feeling in each room while accenting the imaginary expanses of space available to us in our downsized living environments.

But in today’s Globe and Mail, there’s a short article about six studies performed by DrĀ  Juliet Zhu and Ravi Mehta on UBC students involving task performance linked to the colour of the desktop background of the computer they were doing the tests on.

At least in North America, it seems that our learned responses to the colour red have us making cautious decisions when confronted with it in our work environment, whereas blue backgrounds produced enhanced creativity and less caution – more freedom as we link it with open spaces and waters. Which brings us to Facebook, the social networking site that is almost entirely blue. It encourages us to be creative and discourages us to think twice about the potential openings our micro-blogging, photo-spamming and rampant commenting leave into the privacies of our lives.

So, when it comes time to pay attention to detail instead of soaring off in creative pursuits, switch your desktop to red.

However, I just changed the colour of the dashboard for posting to this blog to blue. After all, caution is boring.


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Pepsi attacks the editorial / advertising divide.

The Pepsi Logo

The Pepsi Logo

There was a bit of fuss over the MacGruber Pepsi spot during the SuperBowl this past weekend. At the heart of it, Pepsi bought advertising airtime during the SuperBowl and used a spot that wasn’t produced by their own advertising team, but rather a spot developped by the Saturday Night Live team that had the look and feel of one of their “fake ads”.

Here’s the MacGruber Pepsi ad in question (Youtube link)

It’s interesting in that it makes fun of the source material as well as almost making fun of the product itself. But the issue isn’t about Pepsi using the SNL team and SNL ads to promote their brand – the issue is what happened the night before. A change in our media paradigm.

If you were watching Saturday Night Live last weekend (and I don’t know many who still do it seems), then you might have noticed the recurring MacGruber spots – one of which was used during the SuperBowl. They were inserted into the television show exactly like the usual parody ads run on SNL, but were not during the show’s run-time, instead being shown during paid-for commercial airtime.

While the network (NBC) Entertainment Co-Chairman Ben Silverman’s claim that the ads are distinct enough to not be confusing to the viewer during the SuperBowl can be believed, this is definitely not the case during the Saturday night running. On Saturday night, they felt like (typically unfunny) parts of the actual show, effectively in-show product placement.

When an advertiser tries to imitate the style of a newspaper or magazine article for print advertising, the print publication in question always encapsulates the ad with a “paid advertisement” block around it to distinguish editorial material from advertising. This seperation was not present in the MacGruber ads on Saturday night.

I’ve never claimed that Lorne Michaels hadn’t sold out already, but product placement already blurs the lines between editorial and advertising content, and this is definitely a step over that line.

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