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Brand Over Brain

Update: 2016-08-122


Brands help us assign value to almost everything we buy. But is there a way to know the difference between real and created value? In this episode, TED speakers explore the seductive power of brands. (Original broadcast date: May 9, 2014).

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

before we get started we'd like to share a quick message from host Gator with all the tools you need to build and host your website including templates and twenty four seven expert support to help you every step of the way and right now Ted Radio Hour listeners get sixty percent off by visiting host Gator dot com slash NPR hates guy here just let you know taking a quick summer break without a bunch of new shows coming at the end of the summer into fall but in the meantime take a listen to this one from our archives to tell about the power of brands how brands helpless assign value to what we buy and whether that value is real or entirely made up enjoy This is Radio Hour each week groundbreaking had the Technology Design Design at Stanford and Ted conferences around gift of the human had to believe in impossible the true nature of reality beckons just beyond those talks those ideas adapted for radio NPR guy Russ says a book that Andy Warhol put that in nineteen seventy five is explaining his philosophy on life any other very simple explanation for why he thought America was a great place somebody wrote the book in America we'll return after the watching TV and see Coca Cola like to fly to woo the home and the eye and you know that the President drinks Coke Liz Taylor drinks Coke and just think you can drink Coke too Coke is a coke Iraq and no amount of money can get you a better coach than the one of the core strength the he so here's a question than what we feel that way about Coke but that Shasta or RC we didn't have a ton of money unlike my dad grew up in house with a drink Royal Crown Cola so royal crown was like always around this filmmaker Morgan Spurlock and his thought about this question as well whenever I got to have a cold like the greatest thing ever because it was the Ferrari of sodas the end zone that they taste better but just like they just taste better but why oh why do we think they do the show late like Coke as that poll I have to go for Bayer aspirin over generic light Apple computers make us believe or creative why brands have so much power over the brain and how we assign value to a million different things every single day without barely a thought Sophie years ago Morgan's for like a shot a documentary called Super size Me you may remember it he ate McDonalds everyday for a month away sometime after that he wanted to turn his attention from the food to what makes us want the food and so he came up with a new film project had you decide to make the film The Greatest Movie Ever sold palm wonderful greatest movie ever song Wonderful presents The Great Movie Ride and the as the official title think the pom Wonderful for paying for that no the whole idea of that film my producing partner Jeremy till i can die for years and talked about making a movie that looked at the world of advertising and we'd never kind of worried what would order in B How would we do it differently than someone else and we had watched an episode of Heroes and I love here but it was like the first episode of the second season and like Hayden Pelletier the cheerleader it moved to a new town the electives I wanted the first day should be excited she was coming out of school which was all upset and she have any friends in the school she was so mad the fire and a dad like all honey cheer a mother now it surprise you on your birthday next month but it's he reached in his pocket as he does the camera cuts the front of the scar and Ali's past this Nissan logo to cut back to him holding the keys in her face like the camera tracks focus from the Nissan keys to her face and back to the Keys and she smiles she goes on the road the road you give me the road the Nissan rogue the answer here in the middle of the show that was so beloved to me was this terrible awful commercial and I was just dumbfounded by it later on in the show you now she's got friends because the car and it's great she's leaving a party just like Come on guys to the rogue like oh come on that's it I'm so mad the show the next day Morgan Jeremy his producing partner and I said you know we should do is we just make a whole movie about product placement the whole thing just funded by product placement and it was like in that mode we both looked each other like that's the idea that the film and so out of that came the Great Movie Ever sold and within weeks they started to film the process of making that documentary first pitching the idea to a bunch of ad execs to see if they were interested me this is a clip from The Movie is Movie Ever sold so what happens in The Greatest Movie Ever sold is that everything from top to bottom from start to finish is branded from beginning to end so maybe cell issue it becomes the great issue you ever wore the greatest car ever sold you know the greatest ranking member hackers you're like OK this shouldn't be a problem like I'll just go to all these companies and say Hey I promise you make a film not it's not going to disparage your brand and I'm going to you know have like little commercials for your brand in the bin the movie that's right we're like what brand is going to say no to this This is great none of them wanted anything to do with this movie here's Morgan Spurlock and the Ted stage they wanted absolutely nothing to do with this project I was blown away because I thought the whole concept the idea of advertising your product down from as many people as possible get as many people see it is possible in today's world is this intersection of new media in the fractured media landscape isn't the idea to get that new buzzword the delivery vehicle it's going to get that message to the masses and that's what I thought when I started talking to companies telling to tell the story and they said no we want to tell a story to tell for what we want to tell our story she was a kid my father would catch me in some sort of a lie he was a son there's three sides to every story there's your story there's my story and there's the real story I see with this tome we wanted to tell the real story I said no I was cold call the brand myself and I got on the phone just started cold calling every C M O that I can get on the phone order for it like a movie that I'd be excited about going against everything that we do know the time we got the idea of the film when the first brand said yes it was nine months of us cold calling brands there's this amazing scene in your film that you show on the Ted stage where you get a meeting with executives from a band aid your recovery we are a smaller inlets like you talked about being a smaller movie very much a challenger brands and the past then you say so how would you describe the band ran the words that you would use to describe and man is black man is blank and that is literally silence in the room nobody says they're all just sitting there and then like the CEO of the time the vice president coming as the last question it was amazing but here's the incredible thing about Vandy order it as soon as Ban said yes we started calling other brands up and say OK well who else who said yes so far and I said Well band uterine said yes and cuddly and so the There's be a pause of people gathering to be like you should come to be with us and to me that we've got we've got to talk about this like band Yoder became the linchpin to once they said yes JetBlue palm wonderful Hyatt said yes and then once Hyatt said yes that was done and then there was a brand that Morgan really wanted to sponsor mane and tail they make a shampoo but not to know such as shampoo is a shampoo that is made for both horses and people through the sink but think about how many times have you been in the shower with your horse and said Why can't there be a shampoo for both of us know her as now we can both have the same shampoo and conditioner thank you mane and tail say you went to them and you you said look at you know I'd love to work with you I saw them I like I stalked them for the film like every other day I'm calling the company calling the company leaving a message leave a message finally the CEO called me back so I just want to hear about this I get your biggest product placement film sounds funny so how would you how you envision our product being in the film anti Semites ok picture this or there were in the bathroom is a closeup of the bottom of Main and tell another camera to start pulling back as the camera pulls back a bottle of mane and tail you see me washing my little boy's hair as the camera keeps pulling back is one that you see me washing my own here in the tub and the camera pulls back further pulled back further as it does you see me turn to my left as I'm washing my Shetland pony the silence by the NGOs that the product I've ever heard I made many a Psalm and all that's great I thought you could do something weird with the product no that's okay the the the I recently went on their website on the mane and tail website and in the vetoes but they are the official shampoo for the Ellen degenerate screen room the the facts so the thing about the movie is you went into it like being really pissed off about the same to happen on Heroes yeah but then like after you went to the process and you met with all these people yeah you learn about like what you think I mean I think that for my standpoint with what we did to me we were very fortunate because we've got brand to basic were willing to come on board and give up kind of their brand equity kind of like just literally put our hands and say make what you want but the amazing thing was after the film premiered at Sundance the lights came up I came down from was doing a Q A and I invited all the brands that were in the audience to come down front of people standing ovation people are like whoa yes Bandy odor and thank you so much and best line ever there was a woman in the front row who said I want to thank all of you brands for making this movie for making the film I want you to know I'm going to buy more your products because of it she says because I'm not going to feel good about it but I'm going to do over the course this film we had five hundred plus companies who are up and down coming say no the money part of this project they wanted nothing to do this film mainly because they had no control they would have no control over the final product but we did get seventeen brand partners who are willing to relinquish that control who wanted to be in business with someone as mindful as playful as myself who ultimately empowered us to tell stories that normally be able to tell stories that an advertiser would normally never get behind today more than ever a little honesty is going to go and that being said to honesty and transparency my entire talk embrace transparency has been brought to you by my good friends that EMC who for seven thousand one bought the naming rights on e bay the the seen turning big data into a big opportunity for organizations all over the world EMC presents embrace transparency thank you very much guys the nice weather man says to use this to the highest bidder through here's a question for you even though like we know that so much of advertising is deceptive right in why are we still so seduced by brands see that's that's the multimillion dollar question but you know I don't think they were just seduced by brands of ink were seduced by the imagery that surrounds that brand it's that these pants are going to make you slimmer this drinks going to make you hotter this perfume going to make you sexier it's like everything that comes with that brand and the messaging around it you know we we buy into the dream that surrounds that product much more than we buy into the product and then once we start using it we start to believe in the dream of what that product does for us in a lot of ways you know I still believe Guinness gives me strength every time I bring upon the Morgan Spurlock he hosts Inside on CNN Morgan's full tock that its agents called the greatest Ted Talk Ever sold find it at Ted and PR work in a moment the psychology behind why we like certain things stay with us and Guy rise and this is the Ted Radio Hour from NPR the table in just a good thanks to two of our sponsors who help keep his podcast going first to cast her on line retailer from actresses cast for mattresses are American made and obsessively engineered for comfort they used to technologies latex foam and memory foam to give just the right amount of seat and bounce and have a risk free trial you can try out your cast for matches for a hundred days with free delivery and returns its outrageous comfort at a polite price so go to Casper dot com slash radio hour to check out their options and have a special offer for listeners of this podcast use the promo code Radio Hour to redeem fifty dollars towards a task for mattress that works for you terms and conditions apply thanks also to glue stuff where they want you to know about their modern intranet it's designed to keep everyone on the same page even if the team is half a world away with a glue you can share files have real conversations in real time and do it all while still being able to use the apps you currently use like box Google Drive and sky blue brings everything together and creates a single destination keeps the focus on your work simply put the glue is an intranet actually like to try today at igloo software dot com slash Radio Hour it's the Ted Radio Hour from NPR guy Russ and say show ideas around the power of brand over brain and why as we heard a few minutes till most of us are completely convinced the Coca Cola tastes better than RC or the Safeway brand and it does appear EA case better than regular water so long as you know experience the I think in general are our experiences are modulated not just by our senses but by our beliefs this is public I'm a professor of psychology and cognitive Science Yale University and a lot of this work is focused on how human beings decide what's valuable and what isn't someone isn't mistaken when they pay extra money for the better known brand because it might lead to extra pleasure but how we decide how we decide what has value so you can value things for different reasons you can value them because a utility what they could do for you so golf clubs can play golf with them to suit you could wear but things get value in other ways as well and often they get value because of their history so the golf clubs if they were owned by John F Kennedy would sell for a lot if the suit is an Armani suit you might rather have it and it's from a no name brand even if you know consciously that it's the same kind of suit the same quality and so we get pleasure from some friends from knowing what something is and knowing where it came from and our experiences transformed in that way when he spoke on the Ted stage public open with a story about origins and why they matter more I uh pleasures of everyday life but I want to begin with the story of an and terrible man is Herman Guerin Guerin was Hitler's second in command and war were to his designated successor unlike Hitler getting fancied himself a collector of art he went through Europe war were to stealing extort and occasionally paintings for his collection and what he really wanted was something buy from here Hitler had two of them and he didn't have any so I finally found an art dealer a Dutch art dealer named Han mi Gran who sold over Mir for the costs of what would now be ten million dollars and it was his favorite artwork ever were to came to an end and gearing was captured tried at Nuremberg and ultimately sentenced to death then the allied forces went through his collections and found a pink things and when after the people who sold it to him and arrested Danny Graham Ben even was charged to crime of treason which is itself a punishable by death six weeks into his prison sentence then even confessed that he didn't confess to treason he said I did not so great masterpiece that Nancy I painted it myself before Jer the he said I'll prove it bring the canvas and some paint I will paint a Vermeer much better my soul that disgusting Nancy I also need alcohol and morphine because the only way to work the uh they brought a mini v painted a beautiful Vermeer and then he added charges of treason were drops hit a lesser charge of forgery got a year our sentence and I hear it a Dutch people but I want to turn now to Gary who is pictured here being interrogated that murmur again was by all accounts a terrible man even trend that see he was a terrible man but you could feel sympathy for the reaction he had when he was told that his favorite painting was actually a forgery according to his biographer he looked as if for the first time you discover edge of something so amazing about the human mind no other creature works that we know the teacher cares so much about history and branding and essence mum yeah it's like that that said bourbon Pappy Van Winkle he heard this I have not get the they make like a very limited number of bottles and it's this fairy like coveted item and in heaven to me taste a lesson well it's just some very strong tasting out all the great name had the van Winkle happy than legal happy to have evangelical yes even that area so this is exactly an analogy with art it was a single painting it's of great value if there's ten it's less and it was one hundred eZ lessons of thousands less so in many ways you can make sense of what happens in the world of consumer products like light burden by by looking at how people respond to art you could make a consumer product more valuable simply by having it scarce why does this matter psychologists why the origins matter so much why do we respond so much to our knowledge of where something comes from well there's an answer that many people would give many sociologists like the devil and Wolf would argue that the reason take origin so seriously because we're snobs because we focus on status I don't get to play some role but what I want to continue today is that or something else going on why convince you that humans are to some extent natural born essential it's what I mean by this is we don't just respond to things as we see them or feel Lamar hear them rather our responses condition our beliefs but what they really are where they came from what they're made of what the hidden nature is some weird a little bit like like at our core we're programmed to be like France knobs I think it is weird but I think it makes more sense when you see it as a byproduct of a more general fact about people which is that we are sensuous so for any sort of pleasure not just consumer items not just art items were obsessed with origin and history so so seem that way the affected brands isn't so strange it just sort of modern consumer manifestation of the more general facts about how our minds work even the most seemingly simple pleasures are affected by our beliefs about hidden essence is to take food how it tastes too you will depend critically on what you think you're eating so one demonstration of this was done with young children how to make children not just be more likely to eat carrots and drink milk but to get more pleasure from eating carrots and drinking and just think they taste better it's simple you tell a man from McDonald's they believe McDonald's food is tastier and that leads them to experience the states yet how to get adults to really it's very simple port from an expensive bottle are now dozens perhaps hundreds of studies showing that if you believe you drinking the expensive stuff that tastes better to you this was recently done for neuro scientific quest to get people and MRI scanner and water line there through it to get to sip wine in front of them on a screen is information about the wine everybody of course drinks exactly the same wine but if you believe in drinking expensive stuff parts of the brain associated with pleasure light up like a Christmas tree it's not just ten years say it's more pleasurable you say you like more you really experience it in a different way so so what is real doesn't matter what it's what we believe that matters it's impossible to parcel them out it's clear they both play a role but the cool finding of research into branding is that we are also powerfully swayed by their belief system and sometimes or belief system can cause us to take something which would be typically have no value at all give it value the case I recently had the best cup of coffee of my life and in the barista at The handlebar mustache and a modicum of making that up he's telling me about this like the single origin beans for Maui in the name of a person roasted the day before in the water he poured on the grounds look at exactly eight hundred ninety seven degrees he hands me this company says this is going to be the best cup of coffee of your life what ye do what he was not lying he was not lying but having told you all this it got you in the state where you're ready to appreciate it yeah if it came out of the coffee urn alcoholics Anonymous it may not have tasted quite so that even though it was the same exact coffee that's right what if he served me folders crystals having told me all that great so it's a really good question what the limits are of branding and the limits are of our expectations and beliefs so if someone serves you really awful coffee after all of that she'll I think that we do have sense organs for reason and we can say boy this is you really oversold us this is not that good but we are given all that swayed by our beliefs and it's not clear to me that this is irrational in general you could be wrong about facts about the world it's harder to say that you are wrong about pleasure yeah I was my wife hurt her back and I was at Walgreens late last night and I just pick up some things are heating pads and had them lined up and for about ten dollars to walk reads heating pad and for twenty dollars which look exactly the same and I got the more expensive one because I love his use of her because you would not love her as much if you paid half as much for the same product I mean I've been defending the rationality of pleasure but look I'll admit that given that we are creatures that pay attention to things like scarcity and background and sell one this means that we could be fooled it means we could be tricked means you can see a lot of irrationality in the market and our everyday life I mean this happens even to you the guy who understands us intuitively intellectually that we are all being manipulated and manipulating ourselves anew by the more expensive heating pad like even you fall victim to this whole thing I am a total sucker for these things the the ECB now I'm sort of have Apple products all around my body next to me and everything yeah and some extend I like to tell myself it's an objective assessment that the quality I like like their stuff yet but I won't deny that years of warm glow associate of that brand for me you can be sitting in the coffee shop with her Apple laptop and somebody cross a caption that hockey but they know that you're pretty smart guy to make good decisions because you've got a in a Mac I'm a creative sort I'm not some some worker drone of the Dell no way the the the the two argue that like the way we experience things we perceive to be valuable is that like links to something that is primal that goes way back I think it is I think it's linked to basically how our minds have evolved to deal with people so when you deal with the person you are your feelings towards him how you respond to them is going to be exquisitely calibrated to add to what you know about them and I think intimate human relationships would be impossible if pleasure didn't have this teenager to it I mean consider that we find the faces of people we love to be more attractive yeah this seems to make evolutionary sense and makes everyday sense if it makes sense because finding something attractive isn't meant to be a cold blooded analysis of the world rather toes you who to approach whose company want to be with and so it makes perfect sense that if you believe somebody to be kind to look better to you the the the don't find it crazy that we work that way now so don't find it crazy that imagination play such a role in our pleasures but the fact is we live in a market economy where people are are struggling against one another to get their products across themselves across Seoul will do as well naturally exploit this defect where influenced by brands may be irrational but it comes from irrational source which is that for the most part paying attention to the things matters pub loom teaches at Yale his book I'm what we like and why it's called How pleasure Works you can check out his full time had come so per the reason why say a Mac Air book might make you feel creative or like drinking wine from expensive bottle makes it taste better may have to do something very deliberate something that isn't really about the product but about the experience of the best way to generate demand for any offering two days with an experience so engaging that customers can't help but spend their time with you and then spend their money as result by buying your offerings that's what brands need to do is create these marketing experiences this is just fine and he studies consumer experiences specifically authentic experiences or should I say what we perceive to be authentic because the way to get you to buy something is to make sure it becomes part of your life like an indispensable part of what you like to do and just calls it The Experience Economy Law the the last several years I spent a lot of time in Europe and particularly in the Netherlands however I talk about the experience economy greeted with one particular question the question isn't really such a question as an accusation and the dots when they usually put it that it always starts with the same two words you Americans the SAU Americans you like your fantasy environment your face your Disneyland experiences we Dutch we like real natural authentic experiences so much so that happened as I develop a fairly practice
In Channel

Simple Solutions


How Art Changes Us


Maslow's Human Needs


Dialogue And Exchange


Press Play




Getting Organized


Citizen Science


Failure Is An Option


Future Consequences


The Power of Design






Fighting Cancer


Rethinking School


Shifting Time


Beyond Tolerance




Crisis And Response




Peering Into Space


Truth And Lies


A Better You




Disruptive Leadership


Wired For Altruism


7 Deadly Sins




How Things Spread


To Endure


How It All Began


Speaking Up


Building Better Cities


Painfully Funny


Open Source World


Decisions Decisions Decisions


Spoken And Unspoken


The Spirit Of Inquiry


Playing With Perceptions


Getting Better


Screen Time - Part II


Screen Time - Part I


The Five Senses




The Hero's Journey


Simply Happy


Believers And Doubters




Just A Little Nicer




Giving It Away


The Food We Eat




Democracy On Trial






The Meaning Of Work


How We Love




Amateur Hour




Big Data Revolution


The Act Of Listening


Slowing Down


Why We Lie


Brand Over Brain


Shifting Time


Failure Is An Option


The Fountain Of Youth


What Makes Us ... Us


Animals And Us


Growing Up




Trust and Consequences


Becoming Wise






The Power Of Design


Maslow's Human Needs


The Case For Optimism


Press Play


Beyond Tolerance


Solve For X


What Is Original?


Crisis and Response


The Unknown Brain




What We Fear


How Things Spread


Keeping Secrets


The Money Paradox


To Endure


In Search Of


Rethinking Death


7 Deadly Sins




Building Better Cities


What Is Beauty?


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Brand Over Brain