Rory Sutherland: Life lessons from an ad man (TED Talk)

Scientists like to solve problems of reality, but once you reach a certain level of wealth, most problems are actually ones of perception. So, what exactly is the problem with placebos? They work incredibly well, and they don’t have any side effects.

How about we try placebo education? It gives you the feeling that you’ve had a very good education, and the same sense of unwarranted self confidence, which makes you successful later in life.

It raises the question of how many problems we can solve by changing the perceptions people have.

All value is subjective. Gold is only worth what it is, because people value it in a certain way, and because they believe there is only so much of it. These perceptions can be changed by the marketing of other materials as more precious.

Andy Warhol said that what he likes about Coca Cola, is that it’s classless – the President of the United States cannot get a better can of Coke than the average guy on the street can. This is, in a way, remarkable.

Every country has their own ‘contextual alcoholic drink’ – take Pernod, in France it tastes great, but take it beyond the borders and it tastes like ‘absolute shite’.

The interface fundamentally determines the behaviour. Marketing has been the master at creating opportunities for impulse buying – but we’ve never created opportunities for impulse saving.

(Part of TED a day for June)

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