How ads “hack” our mind

Rule #9: Aim young.

Scotiabank’s “Getting There” account for children has been around for decades, seemingly an insider’s benefit for parents who bank with Scotiabank.  It is only now that Scotiabank is taking the plunge into deep advertising.  Until this decade, Scotiabank has largely avoided any massive contribution to the ubiquitous commercial communication that takes place all-around us.  But with this new campaign, Scotiabank boldly steps into the Quintillion times in which we live.

Only a few years ago, Scotiabank’s contribution to advertising was scant, only the necessaries were done.  Today, Scotiabank touts itself as “Canada’s Hockey Bank” and sponsors the honoured Canadian television program; “Hockey Night in Canada”, as well as the CBC program “Dragon’s Den”.  Scotiabank has lent its name to not one but two Canadian NHL Hockey Arenas (Scotiabank Place of  Ottawa’s NHL Senators, and Scotiabank Saddledome of the Calgary Flames).  It has also associated itself with cultural events such as “Scotiabank Nuit Blanche”, “Scotiabank Toronto Caribbean Carnival”, “Scotiabank BuskerFest” even the “Scotiabank Giller Prize”.  Here’s an organization that has gone from virtually zero visibility to increasingly ubiquitous in a few short years, placing itself as family friendly and multicultural.

Today, one of the apparent keystones of Scotiabank’s advertising strategy is to employ the ninth rule of “Deconstructing Commercials”; Aim Young.

And so, the Young Scotiabanker is upon the scene.  (And incidentally, the Young Scotiabanker can take her Scene Card to the movies – another product by Scotiabank, allowing her to get cheaper tickets at Cineplex-Odeon cinemas in Canada).  Gaining clients when they are young is a great strategy by Scotiabank.  The “Getting There” account offers higher interest and no fees. Besides, how many times has anyone actually switched banks outright?

Commercials like this attempt to ‘hack’ our ‘reptilian’ brain by arousing reactive rather than rational receptors.

In contrast, view the Mini-Wheats commercial below in order to understand the full definition of Rule #9: Aim Young and hook the kids with: music, eye candy, coolness factor, and above all sex appeal.  Don’t be fooled.  The commercial below is aimed squarely at children younger than 5 years of age.  The sex appeal is rife, with sultry eyed cartoon women gazing at you as their exaggerated hips gyrate to the beat.

The subliminal cues are numerous.  Sexy kisses, juicy hearts, go-go dancers, come-hither eyes, hyper music.  It’s all meant to excite.  What is the connection between breakfast cereal and the sequence near the end of the commercial that has the go-go dancers kiss the mini-wheat as juicy hearts fly out of his face?

Oooh, wow! My first threesome!

Oooh, wow! My first threesome!

Commercials like this attempt to ‘hack’ our ‘reptilian’ brain.  The reptilian brain is a remnant of an ancient time in our evolution.  The function of this basic part of our mind is to react quickly.  Speed is favoured over deliberation as our most basic reflexes are triggered.  These triggers play on our sense of flight to danger, as well as our need for emotional and physical comfort  – love.

The sexual input and hyper stimulation arouses our ancient heritage; reptilian, reactive, innate, instinctual…  The commercial is directed at those who are too young to resist:  too innocent to be cognizant that they are being ‘hacked’ through reactive rather than rational receptors.

This is the just the start of a lifetime of ubiquitous commercial communication aimed at ourselves during these Quintillion Times.

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